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Printed  by  Ballantvne,  Hanson  &'  Co. 
at  the  Ballantyne  Press,  Edinburgh 








II.   THE  MENACE  AT   SUNSET           ...  23 

III.  A  woman's  fears         ....  36 

IV.  AT  THE   BREAK  OF  DAWN        ...  46 
V.    STRANGE   CONFIDENCES  ....  56 

VI.   A  SAINT  AND  A  SINNER            ...  65 

VII.   GRAVE  SUSPICIONS            ....  79 


IX.  A  lady's  glove 105 

X.    "  HECTOR  "    MANIFESTS  ANTIPATHY        .  II4 



XIII.  THE  POWER  OF  THE  MYSTIC            .           .  I49 

XIV.  HERBERT   CANNING,    LONDON             .           .  167 
XV.   AN   UNEXPETCED   ENCOUNTER           .           .  I78 

XVI.   A  PROBLEM  TO   UNRAVEL        .            .           .  189 



XIX.   HEART-SEARCHINGS           ....  224 

XX.   THE   DECISION   OF  THE   "  COMBINE  "        .  23I 



XXII.   ALMOST  A  TRAGEDY  !      . 


XXIV.  FAIL   NOT,    GREAT  WIZARD  !    . 
XXV.    "  I   AM   BUT  AS   THE   DUST  " 








Hugo  Alexis  Brentwood  gave  his  assent  to  Agar 
Halfi,  his  right-hand  man,  to  pitch  their  little  camp 
by  the  side  of  the  stream  at  the  foot  of  the  moun- 
tain. Just  for  one  moment,  the  Hindoo  looked  at 
his  master  with  half-closed  eyes ;  his  consent  had 
been  merely  a  mechanical  inclination  of  the  head, 
and  Agar  Halfi  was  quite  sure  that  the  Sahib  was 
not  listening. 

Still,  it  was  sufficient ;  such  matters  were  always 
left  in  his  hands,  and  really  it  was  more  a  matter 
of  form  than  anything  else  that  he  had  asked. 
So  without  more  ado  he  swiftly  gave  his  orders 
to  the  half-dozen  servants  and  carriers,  and  then 
busied  himself  in  superintending  the  preparations 
for  the  evening  meal.  That,  to  his  mind,  was  an 
important  thing,  for  no  man  could  work  unless 
he  were  properly  fed. 

Meanwhile  the  leader  of  this  small  party  leaned 
thoughtfully  on  his  rifle  and  continued  to  gaze 
absently  toward  the  western  horizon,  as  though 
fascinated  by  the  vivid  sunset.  He  was  in  reality 
reviewing  the  past  eight  years  of  his  life,  spent  in 
rough  travel,  and  contemplating  with  some  satis- 



faction  the  knowledge  and  experience  which  he  had 
acquired  thereby. 

When  he  left  England,  those  who  knew  him  best 
— they  were  not  many — regarded  him  as  a  man  who, 
having  given  great  promise  as  a  psychologist,  had 
discarded  most  Western  theories,  and  side-tracked 
into  occultism ;  which  of  course,  from  a  Western 
scientific  point  of  view,  was  mere  superstition. 
His  colleagues  had  put  it  down  to  the  Eastern 
blood  in  him,  concluding  that  his  environment  had 
not  been  strong  enough  to  overcome  his  hereditary 
traits  of  mysticism. 

But  their  point  of  view  did  not  trouble  him  greatly. 
He  had  drawn  his  own  conclusions,  and  having 
plenty  of  means  at  his  disposal,  had  decided  to 
make  research,  and  gather  facts  for  himself.  His 
measure  of  success  was  more  than  he  had  hoped  for ; 
some  of  his  theories  he  had  proved  up  to  the  hilt ; 
others  had  not  been  so  satisfactory,  but  in  any 
case,  he  now  knew  that  psychology  as  understood 
by  Western  thought  was  a  mere  drop  in  the  ocean, 
such  a  puny  feeble  creature,  that  it  was  a  wonder 
it  had  any  life  at  all. 

Thus  it  was  that  at  present  he  happened  to  be 
situated  in  wild  Afghanistan,  a  country  in  which 
he  had  experienced  many  weird  and  strange  things, 
not  always  to  be  found  even  by  those  who  seek 

At  the  present  time  he  was  not  many  days' 
journey  from  the  Persian  border;  and  when  at 
Herat,  he  had  heard  a  lot  of  whispered  talk  concern- 
ing a  cave  in  the  mountains  about  forty  miles 
further  on.  From  what  could  be  gathered,  the 
place  was  stigmatised  as  haunted  ;   but  the  people 


spoke  of  it  as  if  half  afraid  to  do  so,  and  the  infor- 
mation he  could  gather  was  meagre. 

It  appeared  that  at  irregular  intervals  the  Ufe- 
less  bodies  of  people  had  been  found  there.  This 
in  itself  was  sufficient  to  give  the  place  an  evil 
repute,  but  it  could  hardly  have  accounted  for 
the  firmly  implanted  idea  that  the  cave  was  under 
the  influence  of  the  Evil  One.  All  the  bodies  had 
been  mutilated  in  the  same  manner.  In  each  case 
the  throat  had  been  torn  as  though  with  a  sharp 
instrument ;  but  the  wound  was  a  jagged  one,  such 
as  no  known  weapon  could  inflict !  No  doubt  it 
was  this  latter  fact  that  caused  the  natives  to 
condemn  the  cave  as  under  the  spell  of  the  super- 
natural. At  any  rate,  that  was  all  he  could  get  to 
know,  so  he  had  determined  to  go  a  little  out  of 
his  direct  course  and  examine  the  place. 

It  was  the  crackling  of  the  fire  and  the  chnk  of 
tin  pots  that  brought  him  back  to  his  present 
surroundings.  It  then  immediately  occurred  to 
him  that  Agar  Halfi  had  asked  for  orders  to 
pitch  camp.  Remembering  that,  he  turned  his  eyes 
to  see  what  sort  of  a  spot  they  were  in,  and  after  a 
cursory  glance,  nodded  with  approval. 

The  position  selected  by  the  Hindoo  was  a 
good  one,  being  sheltered  on  two  sides  by  the 
rocky  base  of  the  mountain  which  formed  a  right- 
angle,  and  flanked  on  a  third  side  by  a  stream 
which  bubbled  swiftl;j^  down  to  the  plains  below 
in  a  northerly  direction. 

Satisfied,  he  took  up  his  glasses  and  care- 
fully surveyed  the  rugged  Afghan  landscape.  At 
length  his  eyes  rested  on  a  portion  of  it  which 
seemed  to  be  of  particular  interest,  for  he  looked  at 


it  long  and  steadily ;  then  dropping  his  glasses, 
he  gave  a  low  exclamation  of  satisfaction.  There 
could  not  be  much  doubt  that  this  was  the  place 
he  had  set  out  to  visit. 

He  was  disturbed  in  his  meditations  by  Agar 
Halfi  informing  him  that  supper  was  ready. 
Yawning,  he  slung  his  rifle  on  his  back  and  stretched 
his  tired  Umbs ;  then  looking  keenly  at  the  wiry 
supple  figure  of  the  Hindoo,  said  : 

"  Agar  Halfi,  to-night  we  will  rest ;  to-morrow 
you  and  I  will  visit  yonder  cave,  and  if  there  is  a 
demon  there,  we  will  exorcise  him." 

He  laughed  a  little  grimly  as  he  spoke.  He 
was  barely  thirty-five  years  old,  and  had  not 
yet  reached  that  age  when  men  do  not  talk  too 
confidently  about  those  things  which  they  have  to 
tackle,  however  certain  they  may  be  of  the  issue. 
But  there  was  some  excuse  for  his  confident  tone. 
During  his  eight  years'  sojourn,  he  had  nearly 
always  been  successful  in  clearing  up  to  his  own 
satisfaction — if  not  always  to  the  satisfaction  of 
those  concerned — the  many  weird  cases  that  had 
come  across  his  path,  and  he  did  not  think  then 
that  a  day  would  dawn  when  he  would  be  baffled, 
and  indeed  narrowly  escape  with  his  life. 

Agar  Halfi — forty  years  if  a  day — shook  his  head 
gravely,  and  did  not  reply  immediately.  He  was  a 
mystic  of  the  Eastern  school,  and  once  had  been 
within  the  shadow  of  death,  when  probing  too  far 
into  the  mysteries  of  the  underworld.  There  was 
a  note  of  warning  in  his  voice  as  he  answered  : 

"  Maybe,  Sahib,  we  shall  exorcise  him,  maybe 
not — maybe  he  will  exorcise  us  !    Who  knows  ?  " 

A  shght  smile  flitted  across  the  white  man's 


handsome  face  at  the  Oriental's  quaint  way  of 
rebuking  him,  but  it  died  almost  immediately  as  on 
second  thoughts  he  replied  : 

"  True,  my  friend,  you  did  well  to  chide  me  for 
my  self-assurance.  It  is  time  experience  of  these 
things  had  taught  me  not  to  speak  lightly  of  them. 
Still,  let  us  eat  and  drink,  then  rest,  or  we  shall  be 
no  more  fit  physically  to  do  battle  with  this  evil 
thing,  than  these  poor  natives  are  mentally." 

Saying  which,  he  led  the  way  to  their  rough 
repast,  which  they  made  mostly  in  silence,  except- 
ing for  occasional  question  and  answer  regarding 
their  equipment,  their  stores,  and  things  in  general. 
When  they  had  finished,  the  explorer  brought  out 
a  pipe,  which  he  carefully  filled,  and  IjHing  back  on 
his  elbow,  began  to  smoke.  The  Hindoo,  who  did 
not  indulge  in  the  narcotic  weed,  rose  and  went  on 
his  usual  evening  mission  to  see  that  aU  was  well 
for  the  night.  When  he  returned,  he  piled  fresh  fuel 
on  the  fire,  and  squatting  down — Eastern  fashion 
— sat  staring  at  the  flames. 

Brentwood,  smoking  retrospectively,  watched 
him  lazily  for  a  time.  At  last  he  knocked  the 
ashes  out  of  his  pipe,  and  stifling  a  yawn  re- 
marked : 

"The  worst  of  this  sort  of  case  is,  that  one  can 
get  so  little  information — ^has  to  take  so  much  on 

Without  moving  his  eyes  from  the  fire,  the 
Oriental  replied  : 

"  That  is  true,  Sahib — the  fact  is,  ignorance  strikes 
terror  into  the  hearts  of  these  poor  devils,  and  they 
think  that  if  they  speak  too  loudly,  or  say  too 
much,  the  hobgoblin  will  lay  in  wait  for  them." 


*'  Unfortunately  that  is  so,"  answered  his  com- 
panion. "  Also  unfortunately,  it  has  been  the 
means  of  putting  us  more  than  once  into  a  very 
tight  comer." 

The  Hindoo  grunted  emphatically.  "  A  man 
can  only  die  once.  Sahib,  and  he  will  not  die  until 
his  time  comes." 

*'  True,  my  friend,  but  he  can  precipitate  his  end 
by  acting  rashly." 

"  Also  true,  Sahib,  but  then,  his  time  has  come," 
replied  Agar  Halfi  with  finality. 

Brentwood  yawned  again ;  he  was  too  tired  to 
argue  upon  those  lines,  so  getting  his  blanket,  he 
rolled  himself  up,  and  with  a  lazy  "  good-night  " 
prepared  to  settle  down. 

But  sleep  did  not  come  to  his  tired  eyes ;  his 
active  brain  would  not  rest,  and  try  as  he  would, 
he  could  not  shake  off  a  dim  feeling  of  depression. 
At  last  he  raised  himself  on  his  elbow,  and  looking 
across  the  fire  at  the  set  face  of  his  companion,  said  : 

"  What  do  you  make  of  this  cave  business,  Agar 
Halfi  ?  " 

The  Hindoo,  who  had  not  moved  since  he  sat  down, 
raised  his  head  mechanically,  and  looked  at  the 
speaker  with  vacant  eyes.  He  had  the  blank  ex- 
pression of  the  somnambulist,  whose  mind — occupied 
with  the  internal  workings  of  the  brain — is  dead  to 
external  influences.  At  length  the  Ught  broke  into 
his  eyes,  just  as  if  his  soul — being  at  a  distance — had 
heard  a  call,  and  returned  swiftly  to  its  house  of  clay. 

"  Ah,  Sahib,  the  time  is  inopportune  ;  evil  direc- 
tions of  the  stars  work  against  you,  and,  as  I  said 
when  at  Herat,  we  should  have  done  well  to  have 
forgotten  this  place," 


"  You  are  pessimistic,"  replied  Brentwood,  in  a 
tone  of  slight  irritation.  "  Even  if  the  stars  are 
against  us,  it  does  not  follow  that  their  rays  are 
fatal  or  that  we  cannot  overcome  the  trend  of 
their  influence.  Surely,  Agar  Halfi,  you  are 
falling  back  to  the  old  fatalistic  fallacy  of  your 
people  ?  " 

The  Oriental's  eyes  flashed  a  little  in  the  fireUght, 
as  he  answered  in  his  grave  voice  : 

"  Now  for  certain  the  Sahib  knows  that  Agar 
Halfi  is  no  fatalist ;  he  eradicated  that  doctrine 
from  his  soul  long  ago.  But  although  the  evil  direc- 
tions of  the  stars  may  be  overcome  by  the  wise  and 
the  good,  does  my  friend  think  that  the  way  to 
counteract  them  is  deUberately  to  walk  into  the 
danger  zone  ?  " 

"  Perhaps  I  am  over-confident,"  replied  the  other 
meditatively ;  "  but  then  I  think  differently  to 
you.  My  English  blood  gives  me  thoughts  of  which 
you  are  unconscious.  It  is  quite  possible  that  one 
may  enter  the  danger  zone  and  still  overcome  the 
opposing  forces." 

The  Hindoo  slowly  shook  his  head.  "  Is  it  wise 
to  risk  the  jaws  of  the  tiger,  when  you  can  kill  him 
from  a  safe  distance  ?  " 

"  StiU,  Agar  Halfi,  for  better  or  worse  we  are  here 
now,  and  we  will  make  a  bold  bid  to  uproot  this 
mystery.  Once  again,  what  is  your  opinion  about 
it?  " 

"  That  we  shall  not  come  to  grips  with  it !  "  he 
answered  bluntly. 

At  this  retort,  Brentwood  sat  upright  and  stared 
surprisedly  at  his  companion,  who  returned  his 
look  steadUy. 


"  Do  you  mean  that  we  shall  not  succeed  in  this 
matter  ?  " 

"  I  shall  be  satisfied  if  we  both  escape  with  our 
lives  !  " 

The  explorer  looked  at  him  closely  for  some  time, 
and  his  face  grew  stern  as  the  thought  flashed  through 
his  mind  that  possibly  the  Hindoo  would  like  to 
shirk  this  task ;  but  he  discarded  it  almost  as  soon 
as  it  was  bom,  and  said  quietly  : 

"  Agar  Halfi,  I  have  known  you  ever  since  I  set 
foot  in  India  over  eight  years  ago.  Since  then,  we 
have  travelled  together  constantly,  and,  during  that 
period,  I  have  never  known  you  to  shrink  once. 
Speak,  what  is  in  your  mind  ?  " 

"  You  say.  Sahib,  that  you  have  never  known 
Agar  Halfi  to  shrink  once ;  true,  neither  will  he  shrink 
now ;  but  he  knows  that  there  are  forces  at  work 
here  which  are  more  powerful  than  the  Sahib  thinks, 
and — well,  friend  Brentwood,  we  are  not  Mahatmas." 

A  grim  smile  turned  up  the  comers  of  the  white 
man's  mouth. 

"  Well,  suppose  I  take  your  advice  and  turn  back 
now  ?  " 

"  Why  waste  words.  Sahib  ?  you  know  you  will 
not  turn  back." 

Brentwood  laughed  in  a  low  voice. 

"  That  is  true,  my  friend — I  shall  not  turn 

"  Nor  will  Agar  Halfi,"  replied  the  other  stolidly. 
"  Where  the  Sahib  goes  his  friend  and  servant  will 
go  also.  For  he  remembers  that  once,  when  fleeing 
from  the  wrath  of  the  priests,  into  whose  secrets 
he  had  dared  to  look  too  deeply,  a  white  man  gave 
him  refuge,  food,  and  clothing,  and  saved  his  life. 


Some  day,  perhaps,  Agar  Halfi  will  repay  that  debt 
— who  knows  ?  " 

A  long  silence  followed  the  Hindoo's  last  remarks, 
and  they  both  looked  at  the  fire,  neither  desiring  to 
speak.  At  length  the  Oriental  raised  his  hand,  and 
said  gravely  : 

"  Listen,  Sahib,  and  I  will  tell  you  a  legend  of 
these  mountains." 

Brentwood  incUned  his  head  in  assent,  and  the 
Hindoo  continued  : 

"  Far  away  in  the  bygone  past,  there  once  lived  a 
wizard,  who  practised  his  rites  under  the  shadow 
of  one  of  the  great  Persian  kings.  This  man  was  a 
very  wise  and  good  one,  who  lived  a  clean,  upright 
life,  and  always  strove  to  do  his  best  to  uplift  the 
people  of  his  country.  So  great  was  his  power, 
and  so  well-beloved  was  he  of  the  people,  that  they 
said  he  was  the  far-famed  Zoroaster  come  back  to 
earth  again. 

"  He  was  strong  and  handsome,  and  though  barely 
forty  years  of  age,  he  had  guided  the  councils  of  the 
king  for  many  years  with  his  wisdom,  and  they  were 
close  friends.  But  his  hfe  was  not  fated  to  be  a 
smooth  one,  indeed  it  was  to  end  in  pitiful  tragedy. 

"  Now  there  resided  in  the  palace  a  sister  of  the 
king,  who  was  a  sorceress.  Through  her  brother, 
she  wished  to  rule  the  kingdom,  and  no  doubt  would 
have  done  so  but  that  the  power  of  the  wizard  barred 
the  way.  Several  times  had  she  tried  to  thwart  him, 
but  her  arts  and  spells  were  impotent  against  the 
white  magic  which  he  used.  She  was  evil  as  well 
as  beautiful,  this  sister  of  the  king,  and,  in  her  great 
jealousy,  she  determined  to  encompass  the  downfall 
of  the  one  man  who  stood  in  the  way  of  her  ambition. 


"  One  day  she  made  excuse  to  her  brother  the  king, 
saying  that  she  wished  to  retire  for  a  period  from  the 
court,  in  order  to  seek  sohtude  to  enable  her  to  gain 
strength  in  the  magical  arts.  She  obtained  his  con- 
sent, and  for  a  whole  month  no  one  saw  nor  heard 
of  her.  What  happened  during  that  period  is  not 
written,  but  when  she  came  back  she  had  changed. 
There  was  more  magnetism  in  her  eye,  more  subtle 
power  in  her  voice,  and,  what  was  more,  she  returned 
not  alone  !  DweUing  in  her  private  chamber  which 
she  used  for  magical  ritual  was  a  familiar  demon, 
in  the  form  of  a  huge  vulture-like  roc,  that  had  evil 
gleaming  eyes,  and  followed  her  about  Uke  a  shadow. 
Such,  Sahib,  had  been  the  fruits  of  her  sojourn  in 
the  wilderness. 

"  With  the  aid  of  the  familiar,  the  sorceress  found 
means  to  enforce  her  wicked  will.  She  caused  the 
wizard  to  fall  in  love  with  her,  knowing  that  thus 
she  would  deprive  him  of  his  control  of  powers  which 
enabled  him  to  hold  his  high  station.  At  first,  being 
long  estranged  from  things  of  the  flesh,  he  resisted 
the  influence  ;  but  gradually  the  spell  worked  into 
his  system,  and  at  last  he  fell  a  victim  to  the  passion 
she  had  created  in  him. 

"  Now  she  knew  that  his  doom  was  sealed,  that 
she  had  him  in  her  grasp.  Gradually  his  control  left 
him,  he  lost  his  power  and  fell  into  disgrace.  Too 
late  he  realised  that  he  had  been  duped.  In  the 
bitterness  of  his  downfall  he  changed  visibly ; 
black  evil  rose  up  in  his  heart,  and  he  craved  for 

"  But  in  the  midst  of  her  triumph  the  sorceress 
was  to  taste  the  bitter  cup.  Unwittingly  she  had 
wrought  her  own  ruin,  for,  in  making  the  wizard 


fall  in  love  with  her,  she  had  discovered  too  late  that 
she  really  and  truly  loved  him.  Now  she  could  not 
undo  the  spell  she  had  set  in  motion,  and  things 
must  perforce  take  their  course. 

"  One  night,  longing  to  see  him,  she  sent  a  message 
asking  him  to  meet  her  alone.  That  was  just  what 
the  man  wanted — an  opportunity — and  while  he  said 
he  would  come,  he  wondered  at  her  rashness.  They 
met,  and  so  great  was  her  passion  for  him,  that  she 
forgot  all  else ;  but  revenge  was  uppermost  in  the 
wizard's  heart,  and  he  strangled  her.  Then  he  fled 
across  the  border  to  these  mountains,  where  he  knew 
he  would  be  safe  from  the  pursuit  and  vengeance 
of  her  brother  the  king.  Safe  indeed  was  he  on  that 
score,  but  he  reckoned  without  the  power  of  the  Evil 
One  with  whom  the  sorceress  had  made  the  compact 
in  the  wilderness.  The  Master  of  Evil  had  not  cast 
his  nets  in  vain. 

"  One  morning,  just  before  the  dawn,  the  wizard 
awoke  in  his  cave,  with  the  uncomfortable  feeling 
that  he  was  not  alone,  that  another  presence  was 
near  him.  As  he  opened  his  eyes,  he  saw  dimly 
outlined  the  shape  of  a  great  bird,  perched  on  one 
of  the  rocks,  staring  triumphantly  at  him  with  malig- 
nant eyes. 

"  He  trembled  with  fear,  for  he  realised  now  that 
his  doom  was  sealed ;  that  his  time  had  come. 
With  a  hoarse,  chuckling  shriek  the  monster  drew 
near  to  him.  He  tried  to  rise,  but  the  power  of  the 
demon  embodied  in  that  dreadful  shape  held  him 
terror-stricken.  Nearer  and  nearer  it  drew,  its 
cruel  merciless  eyes  gloating  over  the  hideous  work 
it  was  about  to  perform. 

"  At  length  it  reached  him.    There  was  a  terrible 


cry  as  of  one  in  the  death  throes,  followed  by  a 
horrid  mocking  laugh,  and  all  was  silent." 

Agar  Halfi  paused,  then  continued  : 

"  Such,  Sahib,  is  the  legend  of  these  mountains, 
that  has  been  handed  down  in  the  mystic  schools 
of  the  East,  and  it  is  said  that  the  soul  of  the  sorceress 
haunts  the  caves,  seeking  her  lover.  At  these 
periods  her  familiar  appears  in  the  form  of  the  roc, 
and  kills  human  beings  who  are  unfortunate  enough 
to  come  within  the  zone  of  its  evil  influence.  And 
this  will  go  on,  until  sometime  in  the  dim  future — 
as  it  is  said — ^the  wizard  will  again  come  to  earth, 
and  slay  the  demon  which  was  let  loose  from  the 
world  of  darkness  by  the  sorceress.  Then,  and  not 
till  then,  will  these  two  unfortunates  be  released 
from  their  earth-bound  condition,  and  be  able  to 
unite  once  more  on  the  higher  planes  of  the  spiritual 

Brentwood  sat  silent  for  a  while,  thinking,  and 
the  Hindoo  relapsed  into  himself  again,  his  eyes  fixed 
absently  on  the  fire. 

When  the  explorer  spoke  it  was  in  a  subdued  tone  : 

"That  sounds  very  much  Hke  the  antics  of  the 
hobgoblin  we  have  come  to  lay,  Agar  Halfi  ?  " 

The  Hindoo  shrugged  his  shoulders,  which  was 
characteristic  of  him  ;  beyond  that  he  gave  no  reply. 

At  length  the  explorer  settled  himself  down  once 
more,  and  this  time  he  slept.  Little  did  he  know 
what  would  transpire  before  the  sun  rose  over  the 
eastern  rim.  Far  less  did  he  guess  that  he  would 
never  set  foot  in  the  cave  he  had  come  to  explore, 
or  of  the  manner  in  which  they  would  meet  the  hob- 
goblin they  had  set  forth  to  lay. 

For  a  time  Agar  Halfi  sat  motionless,  staring  into 


the  flames.  He  was  far  from  easy.  He  knew  that 
his  companion  was  Uable  to  a  violent  end  from 
weird  and  unnatural  causes,  under  the  influence  of 
the  evil  directions  from  the  planet  Neptune,  which 
were  now  beginning  to  operate  in  his  life.  Particu- 
larly was  this  so  at  the  periods  of  the  conjunction 
and  opposition  of  the  lights  in  the  angles,  and  this 
very  midnight  they  would  be  conjoined  in  the  north 
angle,  below-  the  earth  ! 

What  could  have  possessed  the  Sahib  that  he 
should  court  danger  at  such  a  period  ?  He  shook 
his  head  gloomily.  It  would  have  been  well,  as  he 
had  said,  if  the  explorer  had  forgotten  the  existence 
of  this  place.  Moreover,  he  felt  that  a  powerful 
influence  was  around,  over  which  he  had  no  control, 
and  there  was  something  sinister  in  the  atmosphere, 
hke  the  deadly  silence  that  foreshadows  the  tropical 

The  Hindoo  had  determined  that  sleep  should  not 
close  his  eyes  that  night.  He  knew  instinctively, 
as  well  as  from  experience,  that  evils  of  this  kind 
struck  at  the  moment  when  least  expected,  and  that, 
when  the  world  was  wrapped  heaviest  in  sleep,  just 
before  the  dawn.  Yes,  he  would  remain  on  guard 
through  the  night,  and  prepare  for  an  attack,  as  far 
as  he  was  able.  To  his  mind  there  was  no  question 
that  instead  of  being  hunted,  the  evil — whatever  it 
was,  and  he  had  made  a  good  guess  as  to  that — was 
going  to  hunt  them  !  How  far  in  his  judgment  he 
was  wrong,  subsequent  events  will  show. 

Moving  quietly,  he  deftly  drew  the  signet  ring 
from  the  little  finger  of  the  sleeper's  right  hand, 
and,  resuming  his  seat,  began  to  slowly  roll  it  be- 
tween his  palms,  while,  in  a  subdued  voice,  he  chanted 


strange  words.  With  his  eyes  staring  fixedly  at  the 
fire,  he  continued  this  curious  ritual  for  neariy 
fifteen  minutes,  and  then,  extracting  a  small  packet 
from  the  bosom  of  his  garment,  he  carefully  emptied 
some  of  the  contents  into  the  fire. 

For  some  seconds  a  thin,  straight  column  of  dark 
green  smoke  ascended  into  the  air.  Then  it  burst 
into  lurid  flame,  the  tongues  of  wl^ich  darted  fiercely 
outward,  enveloping  the  man  in  a  blaze  of  light. 
Agar  Halfi  never  moved,-  but  continued  to  chant 
in  a  monotonous  tone,  still  rolHng  the  ring  in  ttis 
hands.  Gradually  the  flames  sank  back,  and  the 
fire  resumed  its  normal  proportions.  Then,  and 
not  till  then,  did  he  cease  his  ritual. 

For  a  moment  he  glanced  at  his  sleeping  com- 
panion, then  stealthily  replaced  the  ring  without 
disturbing  him.  Building  up  the  fire  afresh,  he  had 
one  look  around  to  see  that  all  was  right,  and  settled 
down  to  his  night  watch. 

How  long  Agar  Halfi  sat  thus  he  did  not  know  ; 
for  the  very  thing  happened  which  he  had  deter- 
mined to  prevent — ^he  slept.  The  next  thing  he 
remembered  was  being  wide  awake,  staring  into  the 
darkness.  The  fire  had  sunk  low,  and  it  must  have 
been  somewhere  near  the  dawn. 

He  had  a  dim  idea  that  some  sound  had  awakened 
him,  and  while  he  sat  trying  to  recollect  it,  his  eyes 
rested  on  the  sleeping  form  of  the  explorer.  He 
looked  at  him  mechanically  for  a  moment,  then 
suddenly  he  noticed  that  his  face  was  not  a  natural 
colour  ;  it  had  a  pale,  gre5n[sh  hue,  and  the  features 
were  drawn  as  though  in  suffering. 

The  Hindoo  moved,  with  the  intention  of  rising 
and  going  over  to  examine  him ;  there  was  something 


which  was  not  quite  as  it  should  be.  He  had,  how- 
ever, hardly  reached  his  feet  when  a  horrible  chuck- 
ling sound,  which  made  his  flesh  creep,  caused  him 
to  turn  quickly,  his  hand  on  his  yataghan.  Nothing  ? 
He  could  have  sworn  that  he  saw  a  huge  dark  shadow 
receding  into  the  night.  He  looked  keenly  into  the 
gloom,  trying  to  follow  it,  when  once  more  that 
uncanny  sound  caught  his  ear,  causing  his  gorge  to 
rise,  and  this  time  it  subconsciously  awoke  some  dim 
memory  in  his  mind.  But  that  had  no  time  to  come 
to  the  surface,  for  immediate  action  was  required. 
The  cry  came  again  as  if  from  behind  him.  He  faced 
around,  and  this  time  there  could  not  be  any  doubt 
about  it ;  a  monstrous  shape  was  hovering  over  the 
sleeping  white  man,  who  lay  with  his  left  arm  out- 
stretched, as  if  to  ward  something  off,  and  his  right 
hand  firmly  grasping  his  throat,  while  a  look  of 
intense  horror  transfixed  his  countenance. 

Agar  Halfi  stood  as  though  paralysed,  his  eyes 
riveted  on  the  scene,  and  great  drops  of  perspira- 
tion broke  out  all  over  him.  Surely,  he  thought, 
the  evil  death  is  upon  us  ?  Then  a  faint  hope  began 
to  filter  into  his  mind — the  Fire  Charm  which  he  had 
wrought !  Ah,  but  would  it  avail  ?  He  could  only 
wait  in  mute  agony  and  see,  some  unknown  force 
held  him  impotent ;   he  could  not  move. 

Look !  A  great  shadowy  beak,  beneath  two  awful 
orbs,  was  slowly  drawing  near  to  the  explorer's 
throat.  The  Hindoo  shook  in  his  fear,  as  he  help- 
lessly waited  for  the  end.  He  had  resigned  himself 
to  the  inevitable,  when  once  again  that  horrible 
chuckle  smote  his  ear,  this  time  swelling  into  a 
hideous  screech,  half-laugh,  of  baffled  rage,  dying 
away  into  a  plaintive^wail. 


Then  the  spell  broke  ;  the  shadowy  shape  seemed 
to  melt  into  thin  air.  With  shaking  hmbs  Agar 
Halfi  stepped  across  the  dying  fire,  and,  dropping  on 
his  knees,  gazed  into  the  death-like  features  of  his 
companion.  He  moved  the  right  hand  from  the 
unconscious  man's  throat,  and  started  back  in  amaze- 
ment. Across  it  was  a  jagged  blood-red  line,  but 
no  blood  flowed  from  it.  Surely,  thought  the  Hindoo, 
this  is  the  evil  of  the  legend  !  And  as  he  gazed 
horror-stricken,  the  first  faint  shafts  of  sunlight 
heralded  the  coming  dawn. 



There  are  villages  like  flowers  in  the  combes  of  Somerset, 

There  life  moves  in  ordered  measure  like  an  old-world  minuet. 
Life  replete  with  scented  blossoms,  honest  work  and  well-earned 
With  the  inn  where  you  may  tarry  when  the  sun  sinks  to  the 
And  there's  one  where  I  would  linger,  near  the  pilgrim  path  to 
For  its  name  is  like  a  poem  set  to  song — the  "  Ring  of  Bells." 

On  a  bench  near  the  doorway  you  may  watch  the  dreamy  dusk 
Fall  on  gardens  sweet  with  roses,  lady-lilies,  stocks  and  musk. 
You  can  hear  the  cows'  home-coming  and  the  dogs  far  down  the 
And  the  evensong  of  thrushes,  or  the  lisping  speech  of  rain, 
While  the  cider  laughs  alluring  with  its  piquant  apple  smells, 
As  you  drink  to  teeming  orchards  clustering  round  the  "  Ring 
of  Bells." 

In  a  valley  fair  as  this  is  'twere  no  hardship  to  grow  old. 

Mellowing  as  an  apple  mellows,  homing  like  the  sheep  to  fold, 

With  the  deep  peace  of  the  valley  like  balm  upon  the  soul. 
With  the  faith  that  earth  awakens  ripening  as  the  seasons  roll. 

For  'mid  beauty  Death  comes  softly,  like  the  tale  that  autumn 
Like  a  song  with  finished  cadence,  like  the  last  soft  Ring  of 


Rose  E,  Sharland, 
At  the  Sign  of  the  "  Ring  of  Bells." 

Far  away  down  the  Bristol  Channel,  lying  snugly 
under  the  north-west  wing  of  an  ever-growing  seaside 
resort,  is  an  ancient  rustic  village,  which  for  centuries 

17  B 


has  slept,  deep  in  the  valley  between  the  hills  and 
the  western  sea. 

Cut  off  from  the  inland  by  a  fine  range  of  hills, 
which,  sweeping  round  from  the  north  almost  in  a 
semicircle,  also  encloses  the  great  town  of  Westsea, 
this  quiet  village  of  Worlstoke  dreams  on  in  its 
rural  simplicity. 

Although  so  near  such  a  busy  centre — it  is  only 
separated  from  Westsea  by  three  miles  of  hilly  woods 
— Worlstoke  would  lie  practically  undisturbed,  but 
for  the  few  visitors  who,  deserting  the  more  exciting 
pleasures  of  a  seaside  town,  walk  to  it  through  the 
shady  paths  of  the  Westsea  Woods. 

And  there,  after  partaking  of  tea  at  one  of  the 
cottages,  nearly  all  who  wander  that  way  visit  the 
tiny,  picturesque  church,  with  its  squarely-built, 
'  eleventh-century  Norman  tower ;  and,  if  so  in- 
clined— ^and  the  door  is  open — cUmb  up  the  narrow 
stone  steps  to  the  belfry,  thence  to  the  roof,  and 
revel  in  the  glorious  view  to  be  obtained  there. 

To  the  west  lies  the  mysterious  sea,  stretching 
across  to  Cardiff  and  Barry,  while  south-west  it  rolls 
away  down  the  channel  in  an  ever-increasing  flood 
to  the  Atlantic  Ocean.  To  the  south,  over  the  tops 
of  the  trees  which  form  the  great  woods,  the  church 
spires  of  Westsea  are  just  discernible,  and  to  the 
north  stands  out  the  little  headland  which,  running 
down  to  the  sea,  forms  the  northern  portion  of  the 
bay  in  which  the  village  Ues. 

About  a  stone's-throw  further  down  the  main  road, 
and  on  the  opposite  side  to  the  church,  are  some 
broad  steps,  rough-hewn  out  of  the  rock.  These 
ascend  to  the  brow  of  that  portion  of  the  hill  forming 
the  end  of  the  woods,  and  are  continued  by  a  path 


which  leads  down  the  other  side,  to  the  hamlet  of 

They  are  known  as  the  "  Monks'  Steps,"  and  it  is 
said  that  in  the  years  gone  by  the  fathers  used  this 
rough  road  from  Storton  to  Worlstoke  to  bring  their 
dead  for  burial. 

The  steps  are  many  in  number  and  uneven  ;  but 
the  climb  up  them,  though  toilsome,  is  worth  the 
trouble,  if  only  for  the  truly  magnificent  view  of  the 
surrounding  country  which  is  obtainable  at  the  top. 

To  the  north,  directly  at  one's  feet,  is  a  green  and 
fertile  valley,  stretching  right  up  to  the  base  of  the 
barricading  hills,  the  one  end  of  which  fades  away 
in  a  misty  blue,  not  far  from  a  great  seaport  town 
about  twenty  miles  away. 

For  miles  and  miles  this  range  of  hills  runs  in  a 
great  semicircle,  and  at  last  sweeps  down  to  the  sea 
by  a  small  bay,  just  below  Westsea.  And  there, 
looking  white  and  beautiful,  lies,  in  panoramic  view, 
this  popular  seaside  resort,  as  though  in  the  grasp 
of  a  giant  hand. 

But  the  church  and  the  "  Monks'  Steps  "  are  not 
the  only  items  of  interest  at  Worlstoke.  If  visitors 
care  to  take  the  north  road  running  on  a  level  with 
the  seashore,  half  an  hour's  walk  will  bring  them  to 
all  that  remains  of  the  old  priory  of  Melsea. 

The  tower  is  the  only  part  now  left  of  the  original 
priory,  but  it  will  well  repay  those  who  take  the 
trouble  to  inspect  it. 

Other  parts  of  the  building  are  now  modernised, 
and  used  as  a  farm,  but  there  is  sufficient  interest  in 
the  surroundings  to  justify  the  walk. 

It  was  in  this  priory  that  the  monks  mentioned 
above  used  to  flourish,  from  about  the  eleventh  to  the 


fifteenth  century.  Rumour  has  it  that  they  had 
communication  with  Worlstoke  church  by  means  of 
an  underground  passage,  though  no  trace  of  such  a 
thing  has  ever  been  brought  to  Hght. 

Now  it  happened  that  one  sunny  Sunday  morning, 
in  the  spring  of  19 — ,  the  population  of  this  almost 
hidden  village  received  a  shock,  so  sudden  and  so 
unexpected,  that  it  not  only  for  some  time  afterwards 
awoke  the  inhabitants  out  of  their  lethargic  dream- 
ings,  but  brought  the  eyes  of  the  surrounding  dis- 
tricts to  bear  upon  the  place. 

The  shock  was  caused  by  the  disappearance  of  the 
Vicar,  the  Rev.  Henry  Thornton  !  It  was  "  Jarge  " 
Wride,  the  milkman,  who  brought  the  first  news  on 
his  way  from  the  Vicarage.  As  he  said  to  the  next 
customer  he  called  on  : 

"Mrs.  Galsby "  (Mr.  Thornton's  housekeeper) 
"  she  be  in  a  fine  way.  The  Vicar  he  been  an'  went 
oot  for  a  walk  las'  night,  about  seven  o'clock,  an'  he 
idn't  come  back  !  " 

Such  important  news,  and  through  such  a  good 
medium  as  the  milkman's  customer  happened  to  be, 
spread  quickly ;  and  the  whole  village  was  very 
soon  discussing  the  pros  and  cons  of  the  matter, 
forming  all  sorts  of  conjectures — mostly  irrelevant. 
When,  toward  evening,  there  was  no  sign  of  the 
missing  man,  the  excitement  grew,  and  eventually 
a  search  party  was  formed,  which  sought  fruitlessly 
far  into  the  night. 

On  the  Monday  the  poUce  were  called  in,  but  days 
passed  without  so  much  as  a  single  clue  to  the 
mysterious  disappearance ;  not  a  trace  of  Mr. 
Thornton  could  be  found.  So  things  went  on,  until, 
a  month  after  the  catastrophe,  and  after  the  police 


had  retired  baffled,  the  Rev.  Henry  Thornton  was 
given  up  for  lost. 

The  Powers-that-Be  appointed  a  new  vicar,  and 
the  village  began  to  settle  down  once  more  to  its 
ordinary  humdrum  life. 

But  the  people  were  not  to  be  left  in  peace — there 
was  worse  in  store  for  Worlstoke.  Things  went  well 
for  a  fortnight,  and  then  the  inhabitants  had  a  further 
shock.  A  second  disappearance  occurred !  This 
time  it  was  the  twenty-four-year-old  daughter  of  the 
people's  churchwarden,  and  although  every  effort 
was  made,  no  clue  could  be  obtained.  The  Westsea 
Woods  were  scoured  from  end  to  end,  but  all  to  no 
purpose.  She  had,  Uke  Mr.  Thornton,  seemingly 
de-materiaUsed,  and  vanished  completely. 

The  minds  of  most  of  the  people  now  bordered 
upon  consternation.  What  did  it  mean  ?  Who  was 
going  to  be  the  next  victim  ?  Having  no  explana- 
tion of  the  mystery,  several  almost  instinctively  flew 
to  the  conclusion  that  it  was  something  supernatural. 
People  refused  to  go  about  after  dark,  unless  they 
were  in  twos  or  threes.  Anxious  mothers  breathed 
sighs  of  rehef  when  their  children  returned  home 
safely  from  the  village  school,  and  even  the  bolder 
spirits  of  the  men  were  affected. 

All  sorts  of  weird  tales  were  raked  up,  told  and 
re-told,  and  it  is  quite  possible  that  if  an  earthquake 
had  swallowed  up  London  Town,  the  inhabitants  of 
Worlstoke  would  have  made  little  comment,  so 
centered  were  they  all  upon  their  own  particular 
trouble.  To  them,  one  thing  only  really  mattered, 
and  that  was  what  had  come  to  be  known  locally 
as  the  Worlstoke  Mystery. 

But  that  by  some  strange  chance,  the  new  vicar 


became  entangled  in  the  trouble,  it  is  difficult  to 
say  what  would  have  happened.  His  presence 
brought  others  into  it,  and  upon  them  rests  this 

What  actually  did  occur  constitutes  a  strange 
drama,  as  the  following  pages  will  reveal,  if  the 
reader  has  by  now  found  sufficient  interest  to  seek 
a  Uttle  further. 



The  Rev.  Philip  Alletson,  Vicar  of  Worlstoke,  in 
the  county  of  Somerset,  walked  slowly  and  easily 
along  the  main  path  of  the  great  wood  that  bordered 
his  parish. 

Occasionally  he  stopped  and  absently  contemplated 
the  hard  stony  path,  or  unconsciously  plucked  a  leaf 
from  a  bush  and  slowly  tore  it  up,  then  went  on  again. 

It  was  evident,  from  the  slightly  contracted  brows, 
that  he  was  deeply  considering  some  question  of 
grave  importance — ^at  least  to  him — and  as  he  walked 
with  head  bent,  a  first  impression  of  his  rather  tall, 
yet  slenderly-built  figure,  and  iron  grey  hair,  would 
be  that  he  was  middle  aged.  Moreover,  a  slight 
stoop  of  the  shoulders — a  habit  he  had  when  in 
thought — tended  to  confirm  it.  But  to  see  him 
face  to  face  would  shatter  that  first  impression,  for 
the  clear  skin,  keen  nose,  and  full  though  firm  mouth, 
denoted  youth  ;  besides,  one  was  conscious  of  energy 
and  power  when  meeting  the  steady  grey  eyes. 

He  might  have  been  fifty ;  possibly  thirty  ;  pro- 
bably he  was  nearer  forty — no  one  could  say,  and, 
after  all,  it  did  not  matter. 

His  thoughts  troubled  him,  owing,  perhaps,  to 
his  extremely  sensitive  temperament — one  might 
almost  say  with  truth,  "  supersensitive."  Be  that 
as  it  may,  there  is  no  doubt  that  the  average  man, 



with  steady  nerves  (as  it  is  said),  would  not  have 
thought  twice  about  the  matter  which  troubled  the 
vicar.  He  would  simply  have  dismissed  it  from  his 
mind  as  ofie  of  those  strange,  inexphcable  coinci- 
dences that  do  happen  in  life. 

Mr.  AUetson  had  only  been  installed  at  Worlstoke 
a  month,  but  that  period  had  been  sufficient  for  him 
to  learn  much  of  which  he  had  been  ignorant  before 
he  accepted  the  living.  Had  he  known  then  what 
he  now  knew,  it  might  have  affected  his  decision  ; 
but  indeed  only  a  very  weighty  consideration  would 
have  caused  him  to  refuse  the  offer,  for  at  the  time 
when  it  was  laid  before  him,  the  strain  of  an  arduous 
curate's  life  in  the  East  End  of  the  great  City  had 
all  but  wrecked  his  health.  When  his  rector  had 
intimated  that  there  was  a  small  country  and  seaside 
living,  with  a  fair  stipend  and  a  comfortable  house, 
at  the  disposal  of  the  Bishop  of  Bath  and  Wells, 
and  that  he  (the  rector)  had  been  able  to  secure  for 
him  the  refusal  of  it,  the  Rev.  Philip  AUetson  had 
not,  under  the  circumstances,  taken  long  to  make  up 
his  mind.  For  who  could  tell  ?  such  another  offer 
might  not  present  itself  for  years. 

He  had  certainly  accepted  the  living  "  in  haste," 
but  the  "  repentance  at  leisure  "  stage  had  hardly  yet 
arrived,  though  an  extraordinary  incident  that  hap- 
pened about  a  week  ago  had  gone  a  long  way  to  make 
him  feel  that  he  had  acted  without  forethought,  in 
not  inquiring  into  things  before  he  had  finally  settled. 

It  was  this  incident,  coupled  with  one  or  two  things 
that  he  had  learned,  which  perplexed  his  mind  this 
cool  spring  evening,  for  it  looked  as  if  the  quiet  rest 
which  he  sought  was  not  to  be. 

Briefly,  the  points  were  : 


1.  The  late  vicar,  the  Rev.  Henry  Thornton,  a 
mild,  good  man,  if  a  httle  weak  and  easy-going,  of 
forty-five  years  of  age,  bachelor,  had  suddenly  and 
unaccountably  disappeared,  leaving  no  trace  what- 
ever, and  in  spite  of  exhaustive  efforts  by  the  police 
and  other  people  interested,  no  rational  clue  had 
been  discovered. 

The  only  light  that  had  been  shed  on  the  matter 
was  contained  in  the  detective's  report  after  the 
search  at  the  vicarage.  It  tended  to  show  that  no 
premeditated  flight  had  been  thought  of.  All  his 
papers  were  found  in  order,  and  practically  every 
article  of  clothing  he  possessed  had  been  sworn  to 
by  his  housekeeper,  with  the  exception  of  one  suit 
of  everyday  clothes  and  a  soft  hat.  He  had  gone 
out  on  the  Saturday  evening  in  the  usual  way,  and 
had  never  returned. 

2.  It  had  been  mooted  that  Mr.  Thornton's  ghost 
had  been  seen  by  someone  in  the  village  close  by  the 
ruins  of  the  old  priory  of  Melsea,  and  there  had  been 
a  lot  of  small  talk  about  ghosts. 

3.  A  small  farmer  at  Melton-Storton  had  sworn 
that  when  coming  home  through  the  Great  Wood 
of  Westsea  one  evening,  he  had  been  suddenly  con- 
fronted by  two  apparitions,  one  that  of  a  woman, 
and  the  other  that  of  Mr.  Thornton,  both  of  whom 
had  looked  at  him  in  a  most  evil  and  threatening 
way,  and  then  vanished. 

4.  A  fortnight  ago,  Elsie  Hobson,  the  twenty-four- 
year-old  daughter  of  the  people's  churchwarden,  had 
disappeared  as  mysteriously  and  suddenly  as  the 
Rev.  Henry  Thornton. 

Now  it  was  the  coincidence  of  points  i  and  4  that 
caused  Mr.  Alletson  to  give  the  matter  grave  con- 


sideration.  Point  No.  2  could  be  accounted  for  in 
various  ways,  and  as  to  Point  No.  3,  well,  Farmer 
Joicey  had  not  the  best  of  reputations  for  sobriety, 
particularly  when  returning  from  Westsea  late  at 

What  concerned  Mr.  Alletson  was  that  two  people 
should  disappear  in  so  remarkable  a  manner.  True, 
there  was  a  lapse  of  six  weeks  between  the  events, 
but  they  bore  such  a  resemblance  that  it  made  him 
feel  the  same  cause  had  probably  accounted  for  both. 
But  what  cause  ?  He  smote  the  air  with  his  fist  in 
perplexity  ;  there  was  no  apparent  cause.  Neither 
Henry  Thornton  nor  Elsie  Hobson  had  any  enemies ; 
both  were  well  hked,  in  fact  the  former,  from  all 
accounts,  was  popular,  and  there  was  no  intelligible 
reason  for  either  of  them  to  "  clear  out." 

Poor  Mrs.  Hobson,  who  had  been  prostrated  with 
the  shock,  had  not  yet  recovered.  Her  husband,  a 
hale  man  of  fifty-five,  had  grown  old  in  that  week 
of  trouble  ;  and  Arthur  Shepperton,  to  whom  Miss 
Hobson  was  engaged,  had  worn  himself  haggard  in 
tiring  but  fruitless  search.  The  surrounding  coun- 
try had  been  scoured,  and  the  wood  beaten  from 
end  to  end  ;    but  all  in  vain. 

The  Vicar  sighed,  and  paused  in  his  thoughts.  A 
cool  breeze  from  the  north-west  blew  in  his  face 
and  brought  him  suddenly  to  himself.  For  a 
moment  he  hesitated,  surprised,  not  quite  knowing 
where  he  was  ;  then  he  uttered  an  audible  "  Oh  !  " 
He  found  he  had  passed  out  of  the  wood,  down  the 
gentle  slope  that  adjoined  the  White  Worlstoke 
Road,  passed  the  church  and  vicarage  a  quarter  of 
mile  further  on ;  in  fact,  was  quite  two  miles  beyond 
them,  and  within  a  stone's-throw  of  Melsea  Priory. 


The  sun  was  setting  in  gorgeous  hue,  over  the 
sea  to  his  left,  and  the  last  Ungering  rays,  striking 
the  grey  stones  of  the  tower,  threw  out  in  bold  relief 
the  remains  of  the  once  beautiful  building.  He 
turned  and  looked  at  the  ruins,  with  silent  admira- 
tion, for  it  was  the  first  time  he  had  seen  them. 
The  tower  stood  out  in  sentinel  fashion,  high  and 
commanding  ;  but  the  sunlight  softened  the  cold 
look  of  the  stones,  and  dispersed  the  otherwise  grim 
appearance  which  they  usually  had.  Just  behind, 
the  thick  ivy  clung  protectingly  to  the  crumbling 
walls.  In  the  background  were  ploughed  fields, 
while  far  in  the  distance  could  be  seen  the  dim  out- 
line of  the  Mendip  Hills. 

He  walked  a  little  nearer,  to  gain  a  better  view, 
and  again  stood,  drinking  it  in.  Gradually  the  last 
bright  ray  disappeared,  leaving  the  ruin  in  dull 
twilight,  grey  and  old-looking. 

The  evening  was  very  still ;  hardly  a  sound  broke 
the  silence.  Once  or  twice  the  distant  barking  of  a 
dog  came  across  the  fields,  and  the  murmuring  echo 
of  voices.  Occasionally,  from  the  west  behind  him, 
the  sad  voice  of  the  sea  caught  his  ear. 

The  dusk  deepened,  and  in  that  calm  period  just 
before  darkness  sets  in,  a  space  of  time  which  no 
language  can  adequately  express,  but  which  the 
heart  and  mind  alone  can  feel,  the  man  lost  himself 
in  reverie.  The  night  was  gently  casting  a  veil  over 
a  troubled  world  before  it  slept. 

Gradually  the  coming  darkness  seemed  to  lift, 
then  a  faint  silvery  light,  playing  on  the  walls  of  the 
priory,  betrayed  the  new  crescent  moon,  soon  to 
follow  the  sun  over  the  western  rim. 

The   man   breathed   deeply ;    it   was  exquisite. 


Forgotten  for  the  time  was  the  pitiful  tragedy  that 
had  absorbed  his  thoughts  but  an  hour  ago.  He 
was  entranced  by  the  unspeakable  grandeur  of  the 
closing  day. 

All  at  once  he  felt  strangely  and  completely  alone  ; 
a  quaint,  eerie  feeling,  as  though  he  were  cut  off  from 
all  humanity — a  curious  sense  of  abandonment  and 
desolation  seized  him.  It  was  as  if  he  only  were  left 
in  a  great  universe. 

Shaking  himself,  he  smiled.  Why,  of  course  he 
was  alone ;  but  although  he  passed  it  over,  that 
feeUng  of  loneUness  was  not  merely  the  absence  of 
living  flesh  and  blood,  as  he  well  knew.  Still,  the  sen- 
sation had  turned  his  thoughts  into  another  channel. 

He  was  back  in  London,  fifteen  years  ago,  a  young 
and  healthy  man,  eager  for  the  work  before  him,  and 
with  that  remarkable  faith  in  his  heart  which  carries 
some  people  through  the  most  arduous  struggles. 

Ah  !  how  he  worked  in  those  days.  His  heart 
was  great  as  well  as  his  faith,  and  he  used  to  carry 
out  his  duties  with  a  vigour  that  had  won  for  him 
a  name. 

And  then,  slowly  but  surely,  doubts  began  to 
trickle  through  the  armour  of  his  beUefs ;  and  while 
reason  began  to  coldly  drive  him  one  way,  he  clung 
with  a  tenacity  almost  desperate  to  his  early  teach- 
ings. They  had  wound  themselves  into  his  life, 
and  it  was  hard  and  bitter  to  even  have  to  think 
that  they  were  a  mere  nothing.  But  he  was  not 
satisfied,  and  he  read — ^heavens  !  how  hungrily  he 
read,  hoping  without  hope,  all  types  of  works ; 
striving  to  obtain  that  for  which  many  others  have 
sacrificed  their  lives  :  aye  !  and  perhaps  their  souls 


He  shuddered,  for  in  his  searchings  he  had  studied 
and  practised  Magic  !  And  yet,  why  should  one 
exclaim  ?  for  what  will  a  man  not  do  when  his  very 
self-conscious  existence  seems  to  be  in  the  balance, 
and  the  long  and  stem  struggle  within  gives  no  light  ? 

Let  us  not  forget  that  there  is  a  period  in  everyone's 
Hfe  when  the  real  self  demands  that  the  vexed  ques- 
tion of  purpose  in  the  universe  shall  be  settled.  It 
is  one  of  our  lessons — part  of  our  evolution. 

Until  we  either  consciously,  or  sub-consciously, 
realise  or  perceive  ultimate  good  in  the  nature  of 
things,  how  can  we  set  ourselves  to  work  for  good  ? 
Unless,  indeed,  in  the  evolutionary  process  we  are 
forced  to  travel  that  path,  and  are  not  free  to  choose 
the  ultimate  end,  but  only  to  retard  or  quicken  it. 

If  we  coldly  examine  our  behefs  with  critical 
reason,  as  we  undoubtedly  should,  we  receive  rude 
shocks ;  and  if  we  pursue  the  process,  most  of  us 
get  landed  in  an  impasse,  where  we  arrogantly 
flounder,  declaring  that  we  have  reached  the  extent 
of  man's  rational  capabilities. 

We  treat  condescendingly  the  many  who  have 
"  faith  without  reason,"  and,  in  our  bhnd  ignorance, 
unjustly  include  with  them  the  few  who,  after 
weary  battUngs,  have  struggled  out  of  the  man-made 
cul-de-sac  of  logic,  and  found,  through  intuitive 
knowledge,  knowledge  which  is  in  us  all,  but  to  which 
man's  artificial  reasoning  does  not  lead,  some  of  the 
great  truths  of  existence. 

But  let  us  not  be  too  harsh.  The  traps  into  which 
logical  reasoning  allures  us  are  many  and  deadly. 
For  instance,  if  we  come  to  analyse  the  conscious 
desire  which  is  in  humanity  for  prolonged  life,  the 
desire  not  to  be  swept  into  oblivion,  where  are  we 


landed  ?  Our  process  of  reasoning  will  not  explain 
to  us  whether  that  desire  is  inherent  merely  as  a 
heritage  from  primitive  man,  or  is  something  else 
which  at  present  we  cannot  understand  ;  though  its 
tendency  is  to  convince  us  of  the  former.  Neither 
can  logical  reasoning  explain  many  of  the  truths 
which  we  already  know — remember  that  we  can 
know  things  without  reasoning  to  them.  So  let  us 
beware  !  Though  logic  is  part  of  truth,  truth  is  not 
necessarily  logic ;  for  logic  is  a  part  of  a  thing,  and 
truth  the  whole  of  it. 

Based  upon  such  premises  had  been  the  struggle 
within  the  Vicar's  self  ;  and  he  wondered  now  why 
he  had  not  then  gone  mad ;  it  must  have  been  a 
very  near  thing.  Perhaps  he  was  on  the  verge  when 
the  crisis  came,  and  his  health  broke  down.  Maybe 
that  saved  his  reason.  No  doubt  the  particularly 
hard  position  that  he  held,  combined  with  the  pro- 
longed struggle  within,  had  been  too  much.  He 
had  not  actually  been  ill,  but  after  a  week  of  violent 
headache  (neuralgic  the  doctor  called  it),  a  kind  of 
dull,  lethargic  spell  came  over  him.  He  went  about 
as  if  crushed,  and  was  rapidly  sinking  into  an  old 
man,  when  the  offer  of  Worlstoke  came  to  his  rescue. 

The  young  moon  sank  over  the  horizon  in  the  wake 
of  the  sun,  and  the  sudden  change  from  the  dim 
mystic  Ught  to  darkness  aroused  him  to  a  sense  of 
his  present  environment. 

It  was  chilly.  Buttoning  his  coat  across  his  chest, 
he  turned  to  go  ;  when  once  more  that  queer,  lonely 
feeling  crept  over  him. 

It  was  uncanny  ;  more,  it  was  extraordinary, 
and  puzzled  him  not  a  Httle.  He  could  not  in  any 
way  connect  it  with  anything  he  had  experienced 


before.  It  was  as  though  that  part  of  him  which  in 
the  evolution  of  things  is  always  striving  for  better- 
ment, struggling  to  uplift,  had  been  wrenched  away, 
leaving  his  body  a  hulk  of  clay,  helplessly  adrift. 

He  hesitated,  trying  within  himself  to  understand 
this  newly-born  sensation,  and,  as  he  strove  to  grasp 
it,  he  was  forewarned  that  all  the  old  doubts  (which 
had  not  troubled  him  since  he  came  to  Worlstoke) 
were  slowly  beginning  to  rise. 

Could  it  be  that  he  was  again  going  to  suffer  all 
the  agony  of  mind  to  which  he  had  been  exposed 
in  London  ?  He  trembled  to  think  of  it.  Such  an 
ordeal  as  that  could  not  again  be  endured  without 
calamity.  No  human  reason  could  twice  sustain 
what  he  had  passed  through  during  those  long, 
wretched  years  of  trial. 

With  an  effort  he  controlled  himself,  overcame  the 
paralysing  sensation  which  gripped  him,  and  once 
more  started  off  home. 

But  it  was  only  momentarily.  Those  doubts, 
once  roused,  could  not  so  easily  be  quelled.  More- 
over, they  were  taking  definite  shape  !  Something, 
he  could  not  comprehend  what,  was  actually  forcing 
his  mind  to  accept  there  and  then  that  not  only  was 
there  no  hope  of  God,  and  Good,  but  that  the  reverse, 
evil  (so-called),  was  the  only  real  force  or  power  that 
existed.  That  so-called  God,  or  Good,  was  merely 
a  phantasm  of  the  disordered  brain  of  man.  That 
the  whole  universe  was  one  mighty,  struggUng  mass 
of  individual  atoms,  each  seeking  to  destroy  the 
other.  That — that — but  enough  !  He  stopped 
dead,  mentally  and  physically,  and  a  cold  perspira- 
tion broke  over  him.  What  was  happening  ?  Was 
he  really  at  last  going  mad  ? 


He  gazed  dully  through  the  darkness,  trying  to 
disentangle  his  thoughts.  His  legs  felt  heavy  and 
weary,  as  though  the  weight  of  his  troubled  mind 
had  been  materially  added  to  his  body,  and  they 
could  not  support  the  double  burden.  He  almost 
sank  to  the  ground,  and  probably  would  have  done 
so,  when  something  happened  which  drew  him  up 
taut,  every  muscle  tense  and  senses  alert. 

Borne  on  the  cool  night  wind,  a  long,  low,  plain- 
tive cry  came  fretfully  calling  over  the  fields,  hke 
the  whine  of  a  creature  in  pain. 

The  man's  breath  came  and  went  rapidly,  in  short 
fits  and  starts,  and  irresolutely  he  strained  his  ears 
to  catch  the  sound. 

What  was  it  ? 

A  short  deadly  silence  followed,  during  which  he 
was  conscious  of  a  dual  desire.  He  wanted  to  go 
away  from  that  cry — to  run,  anything,  so  as  not  to 
hear  it  again.  He  was  aware  of  a  feeling  of  loathing 
and  repulsion,  while  something  within  said  "  fly." 

Simultaneously,  he  was  aware  that  the  hideous 
cry  appealed  to  him  in  some  way,  drew  him  in  a 
mysterious  manner  ;  and  he  had  a  strong  impelling 
desire  to  go  in  the  direction  from  which  it  came. 

In  spite  of  his  usual  outward  calm,  he  trembled, 
though  not  knowing  why  ;  for  it  was  not  physical 
fear  that  held  him. 

Hark  !  Once  more  it  broke  forth  upon  the  still- 
ness, whimpering  and  waiHng  through  the  night ; 
and  in  it  there  was  a  blood-curdling  note  of  wicked 

The  Vicar  gasped ;  it  seemed  unnatural ;  in- 
stinct told  him  that  no  human  voice  could  make 
that  sound.    Then  it  must  be  an  animal — ^but  what 


animal  ?  What  beast  could  produce  a  cry  of  that 
description  ?  It  was  most  improbable  ;  for  there 
was  a  distinct  intelligible  note  in  it,  which  appealed 
and  called,  of  which  surely  no  animal  was  capable  ; 
but  what  other  explanation  was  there  ? 

Moreover,  he  was  keenly  sensible  of  that  subtle 
note,  supplicating  in  an  alluring  manner  to  some- 
thing as  yet  unknown. 

Once  more  it  penetrated  the  darkness,  long  drawn 
out,  mournful,  and  this  time — O  God  !  the  appeal, 
the  call,  was  to  him.  Something  in  him  stirred 
and  responded  to  it,  holding  him  fast,  although 
he  fought  hard,  in  palpable  fear  and  disgust,  to 
overcome  it. 

Slowly,  slowly,  impelled  by  he  knew  not  what,  he 
began  to  move,  as  though  drawn  by  invisible  hands 
toward  the  ruined  priory ;  and  as  he  stealthily 
gUded  over  the  ground,  the  feeHng  of  horror  which 
had  been  so  acute  became  less  so,  until  it  gradually 
but  surely  left  him. 

His  pace  quickened,  and  with  it  his  blood  circulated 
more  freely,  until  a  warm  glow  suffused  his  body. 
All  at  once  he  felt  joyously  elated,  as  though 
treading  on  air — a  buoyant  feeling  of  awful  glad- 
ness dominated  him. 

Tiny  patches  of  green  mist  began  slowly  to 
twist  and  twirl  in  the  gloom,  now  at  a  distance, 
now  close,  not  more  than  a  couple  of  yards  away. 
Faster  and  faster  they  danced,  in  a  never-ending 
maze,  until  the  pace  became  bewildering,  and  he 
watched  them  fascinated. 

They  seemed  to  be  leading  him,  but  where  he 
did  not  know,  nor  did  he  care  much  just  then, 
his  one  desire  being  to  follow,  though  there  was  a 



dim  idea  in  his  mind  that  they  would  guide  him 
to  some  place  where  he  anxiously  wanted  to  go. 

He  was  walking  quickly  now,  and  the  heat  en- 
gendered by  the  sharp  physical  action,  caused  him 
instinctively  to  want  to  open  his  coat.  He  tried 
to  lift  his  hand  to  do  so,  but  some  force  seemed  to 
hold  it  down. 

Absorbed  in  watching  the  dancing  mist,  he 
steadily  followed  in  its  wake.  But  the  heat  be- 
came almost  intolerable,  and  involuntarily  he 
again  tried  to  Hft  his  hand  to  release  the  buttons, 
and  ease  the  hot  choking  feeling  at  his  throat. 
Once  more  that  same  hidden  power  held  it  back ; 
but  this  time,  the  strong,  overbearing  desire  to 
obtain  relief  from  the  heat  compelled  his  atten- 
tion for  a  moment,  not  consciously,  but  instinc- 
tively, and  the  resistance  irritated,  half-angered 
him.  Natural  obstinacy  resented  it,  and  with  a 
violent  jerk,  he  brought  his  hand  to  the  top  of 
his  coat  and  literally  tore  it  open. 

And  now  a  strange  thing  happened.  Practically 
at  the  same  time  that  he  released  the  buttons  of 
his  coat,  his  fingers  by  accident  (?)  came  in  contact 
with  the  little  gold  cross  that  he  always  wore  round 
his  neck,  and  clutched  it  .  .  . 

Snap  !  Something  seemed  to  part  asunder  in 
his  brain  with  a  report.  He  came  to  a  sudden 
halt,  and  stared  about  him  fearfully,  as  one 
would  when  first  waking  from  a  dreadful  dream. 
He  gave  a  little  exclamation  of  wonder,  then 
started  to  laugh,  but  the  laughter  died  away,  as 
suddenly  he  remembered  that  abominable  cry. 
As  the  thought  of  it  came  surging  into  his 
brain,  he  was  for   a  space  seized  with  an  over- 


whelming  nausea,  followed  by  a  sense  of  revolting 

For  half  a  minute  he  might  have  stood  thus,  and 
then  he  regained  control  of  his  muscles.  With  a 
gasp  of  real  fear,  he  turned  and  blindly  ran  as  hard 
as  he  could  run,  as  though  all  the  powers  of  Hell 
were  let  loose  upon  his  track. 

Over  the  uneven  ground  he  fled,  over  the  hedge 
at  the  bottom  of  the  field,  and  up  the  road,  heedless 
of  all  and  everything  but  the  fear  in  his  heart,  until 
he  fell,  exhausted  and  trembling,  but  with  his  fingers 
still  clutching  the  little  gold  cross,  on  the  floor  of 
the  summer-house  in  the  garden  of  the  quiet  old 
Vicarage.  For  a  short  space  he  lay  thus,  perhaps 
sixty  seconds,  and  then  he  felt  himself  plunging 
through  black  voids,  falling,  falling  into  empty, 
bottomless  nothingness.    He  had  fainted. 


A  woman's  fears 

The  morning  following  the  Rev.  Philip  Alletson's 
extraordinary  experience  found  him  rather  pale,  and 
in  a  decidedly  nervous  state  of  mind.  The  shock  to 
his  system  had  been  severe,  and  he  had  contracted  a 
slight  cold  through  being  exposed  in  the  sunmier 

He  got  out  of  bed  with  difficulty,  feeling  very 
seedy,  and  had  to  use  an  effort  of  will  to  take  his 
cold  bath.  He  felt  a  little  better  after  the  effect 
of  the  water,  but  he  was  longer  than  usual  dressing, 
and  once  or  twice  narrowly  missed  cutting  him- 
self whilst  shaving. 

However,  he  finished  his  toilet  at  last,  and  went 
down  to  breakfast  fifteen  minutes  late — a  very 
unusual  occurrence. 

Beyond  drinking  some  coffee,  he  scarcely  touched 
the  meal ;  instead,  he  sat  toying  with  his  knife  and 
looking  out  of  the  window. 

His  sister  Constance  surveyed  him  with  troubled 
eyes.  She  was  used  to  his  silent  ways,  but  she 
could  see  that  this  morning  he  was  not  his  usual 
self ;  and  the  fear  immediately  arose  in  her  mind 
that  the  "  old  doubts  " — which  had  not  manifested 
themselves  since  they  came  to  Worlstoke — were 
again  weighing  upon  him. 

"  Are  you  all  right,  Philip  ?  "  she  asked  doubtfully. 

A   WOMAN'S   FEARS  37 

"  Hardly  ;  I'm  afraid  I've  caught  cold,  and  I  feel 
rather  out  of  sorts." 

She  sighed  with  a  sense  of  relief,  feeling  glad  it 
was  apparently  nothing  worse, 

"  Do  try  and  eat  something ;  you  have  almost 
regained  your  normal  appetite  since  we  came  here, 
and  I  don't  want  to  see  any  signs  of  it  falling  off. 
It  makes  me  think  of  those  dreadful  days  after 
your  ilbiess,  when  I  had  to  beg  and  entreat  of  you 
to  take  anything." 

Raising  his  eyes,  he  looked  at  her  smilingly,  and 
then  managed  to  swallow  a  few  mouthfuls ;  but 
it  was  a  poor  attempt,  and  clearly  done  to  please 

He  had  a  great  affection  for  his  sister;  indeed, 
although  but  twenty-eight,  and  ten  years  his  junior, 
she  was  his  closest  companion,  and  had  lived  with 
him  ever  since  the  death  of  their  mother  some  eight 
years  ago. 

In  contrast  to  her  brother,  Constance  Alletson 
was  rather  below  than  above  the  medium  height, 
though  well-built,  with  an  upright  carriage.  Her 
hair  was  of  a  fine  rich  brown,  with  an  auburn  tint ; 
and  it  well  matched  her  fair  skin  and  intelligent 
dark  blue  eyes.  She  was  undoubtedly  attractive, 
without  being  exactly  beautiful,  though,  hke  her 
brother,  she  was  reserved  and  possessed  of  the  same 
nervous  disposition. 

She  critically  watched  her  brother's  forced  attempt 
to  eat,  and  then  exclaimed  : 

"That's  better,  though  it  doesn't  seem  to  go 
down  very  well,  and  it  is  fish  too,  which  I  know 
you  hke." 

He  looked  apologetic  :   "  No  !  I'm  afraid  I  must 


give  it  up  ;  I  did  not  sleep  at  all  well  last  night, 

"  Now  that's  strange,  Philip,  /  could  not  rest.  I 
kept  dreaming  in  a  jumbled-up  sort  of  fashion, 
though  now  and  again  quite  vividly.  Once  in 
particular,  I  remember  it  plainly :  I  had  been 
running  away  from  something,  as  you  do  in  dreams, 
though  I  didn't  know  what  it  was,  and  had  just 
reached  the  Vicarage  gate,  exhausted.  I  had  not 
even  strength  to  lift  the  latch  to  pass  through  into 
the  house,  and  all  the  while  this  terrible  something 
was  approaching  nearer  and  nearer.  I  had  given 
up  all  hope  and  was  preparing  to  be  seized,  when 
you  suddenly  stepped  in  front  of  me,  between 
me  and  the  monster.  All  you  seemed  to  do  was 
to  hold  up  that  Uttle  gold  cross  I  gave  you,  which 
you  wear  round  your  neck,  and  it  seemed  to  be 
possessed  of  magical  powers.  The  something  gave 
a  horrid  cry  of  baffled  rage  and  fled,  and  as  it  went, 
it  turned  into  Mr,  Brentwood  ! 

"  Ridiculous,  wasn't  it  ?  "  she  added  laughingly. 

Philip  nodded  his  head  in  unconscious  assent  and 
eyed  her  curiously.  He  was  well  aware  that  his 
sister  possessed  certain  psychic  powers — they  used 
to  have  private  sittings  together  when  in  London 
— and  he  could  not  help  wondering  whether  she 
knew  anything  about  his  own  experience.  That 
reference  to  the  gold  cross  seemed  strange.  How- 
ever, it  was  unlikely,  as  she  would  almost  surely 
have  mentioned  it  before  now. 

Constance  noticed  his  silence,  and  misreading  it, 
continued  : 

"  Of  course,  I  know  I  don't  like  Mr.  Brentwood, 
he  seems  to  be  such  a  cold-blooded  and  unsociable 

A   WOMAN'S   FEARS  39 

man — ^and  I  expect  that  is  why  he  became  the 
bogey  of  my  nightmare.  I  apologise,  PhiHp,  for 
mahgning  him — ^I  know  that  you  and  he  are  good 

She  drew  herself  up  in  mock  dignity,  and  laughed 

"  I  think  you  are  rather  hard  on  our  neighbour, 
Constance — ^I  don't  find  him  unsociable,  and  I 
don't  think  you  would  either,  if  you  knew  him 
better.  But  why  should  you  think  he  is  cold- 
blooded ?  " 

"  Well,  do  you  remember  when  you  told  him 
about  the  disappearance  of  Miss  Hobson  ?  " 


"  He  never  even  altered  his  countenance — it 
didn't  affect  him  a  Uttle  bit.  I  know,  because  I 
was  looking  at  him." 

"  Rather  thin  evidence  upon  which  to  judge  him, 

"  Well,  not  only  that,  but  I  always  had  the 
impression,  from  the  first  time  I  met  him,  that 
there  was  something  wicked  at  the  back  of  his 
mind.  Really,  Philip,  I  don't  think  I  could  trust 

The  Vicar  laughed  in  amusement ;  he  had  no 
answer  for  such  reasoning.  There  was  silence  for 
a  few  minutes,  during  which  Constance  finished 
her  breakfast,  while  her  brother  watched  her. 

Then  he  remarked : 

"  Ah  !  dreams  are  queer  things." 

"  Yes,  PhiHp,  I  know  some  of  mine  are." 

"  I  suppose  they  all  arise  from  stomach  troubles  ?  " 

"I'm  sure  they  all  don't,  and  you  know  they 
don't,"  she  retahated. 


"  Well,  at  least  so  we  are  told  by  our  medical 

Constance  laughed.     "  Now  you  are  teasing." 

Suddenly  she  became  serious  : 

"  Have  you  heard  anything  more  concerning 
the  mystery  ?  " 

Her  brother  looked  graver  than  usual,  and  shook 
his  head. 

"  No.  I  called  at  the  farm  yesterday  afternoon 
to  see  how  Mrs.  Hobson  was,  and  then  learned 
that  no  clue  had  been  alighted  upon.  I  am  sorry 
for  them — Hobson  seems  quite  an  old  man,  and 
his  wife  is  still  unable  to  leave  her  bed." 

"  Do  you  know,  Philip,  I  think  there  is  some- 
thing unnatural  about  this  place."  She  had 
lowered  her  voice,  and  was  bending  over  the  table, 
her  blue  eyes  gazing  steadily  into  his  grey  ones. 

Just  for  a  second  the  Vicar's  face  betrayed 
surprise  ;  then  he  said  quietly  : 

"  Well,  go  on." 

"  These  two  extraordinary  disappearances,  which 
up  till  now  have  baffled  everybody — surely,  if 
they  had  been " 

Her  brother  shook  his  head  and  frowned : 

"  You  know,  Constance,  it  is  the  usual  thing  to 
fly  to  the  '  supernatural '  to  explain  a  problem  when 
it  baffles  the  reason." 

She  gave  a  little  gesture  of  impatience  : 

"  Siurely,  Philip,  you  know  me  better  than  to 
think  I  should " 

"  Yes,  yes,  my  dear,"  he  interrupted.  "  1  am 
quite  sure  you  would  not  jump  to  wild  conclusions. 
I  merely  wanted  to  emphasise  the  point,  as  it 
is  important." 

,    A   WOMAN'S   FEARS  41 

"  Well,  my  impressions  on  more  than  one  occa- 
sion lately  have  been  exceedingly  queer,  and  I  am 
quite  certain  that  there  is  something  more  than 
unhealthy  in  the  atmosphere." 

She  spoke  so  forcefully  that  he  could  not  help 
being  impressed. 

"  Ah  !  "  he  exclaimed,  rising,  "  I  hardly  know 
what  to  think.  Still,  I  must  be  getting  on,  I  have 
a  heap  of  work  to  do  this  morning." 

As  he  reached  the  door,  she  called  him : 

"  Philip  !  " 

He  half  turned,  and  she  was  by  his  side  with  her 
hand  on  his  arm,  looking  earnestly  into  his  face. 

"  Something  teUs  me  that  you  are  going  to  try 
and  probe  this  mystery  !  " 

He  smiled  and  nodded.  It  was  not  the  first  time 
she  had  known  things  in  that  way. 

"  Well,  promise  you  will  let  me  know  all  that 
you  do.  I  am  not  easy  about  it ;  I  feel — er — 
that  something  may  happen  to  you." 

He  laughed  reassuringly : 

"  Don't  worry,  Constance,  I  will  tell  you  all  I  do, 
and  I  won't  attempt  anything  desperate.  But  I 
must  do  what  I  can  to  try  and  help  clear  the 
thing  up  ;  it  is  my  duty." 

She  did  not  answer  him,  instead  she  turned  to 
the  table  and  busied  herself  with  the  breakfast 

He  watched  her  for  a  few  seconds,  then  open- 
ing the  door,  went  to  his  own  little  room — where 
he  did  his  indoor  work — ^and  sat  down  at  his 
desk.  His  mind  was  a  little  easier  now  ;  it  was  a 
rehef  to  find  that  Constance  had  not  any  know- 
ledge of  the  fainting  fit  which  overcame  him  in  the 


garden.  That  would  have  needed  some  explanation, 
and  he  was  not  prepared  to  say  anything  at  present. 
Had  he  been  found,  there  would  have  been  no 
alternative  ;  for  he  had  a  plain,  straight  way  of 
dealing  with  things,  and  never  paltered  with  the 
truth.  He  would  not  have  countenanced  any 
idea  of  misleading  anyone  with  regard  to  the  cause 
of  his  swoon,  least  of  all  his  sister. 

But  he  was  very  far  from  being  tranquil.  He 
was  really  obsessed  with  the  uncertainty  of  the 
whole  matter,  and,  contrary  to  his  natural  reserve, 
he  had  a  desire  to  put  the  details  before  someone 

Instinctively  he  thought  of  Constance,  but  im- 
mediately shook  his  head.  It  might  ease  him  to 
tell  his  sister,  but  it  was  more  hkely  to  upset 
her,  and  further,  he  failed  to  see  how  it  could  help 

The  only  other  person  he  could  think  of  was 
his  neighbour,  the  Master  of  Storton.  If  accounts 
were  true,  and  to  some  extent  he  knew  they  were, 
Mr.  Brentwood  was  the  very  man  before  whom 
to  put  such  a  case.  But  there  were  difficulties  in 
that  direction.  Although  they  were  on  fairly 
intimate  terms,  the  Vicar  was  not  quite  sure  that 
he  could  trust  him  with  such  a  personal  matter. 
His  neighbour  was  not  a  Churchman,  of  that  he 
had  no  doubt ;  in  fact,  he  was  fairly  sure  that. 
Mr.  Brentwood,  if  anything,  was  opposed  to  the 
Church.  How  then  would  he  be  Ukely  to  treat 
such  a  matter  coming  from  a  clergyman  ? 

Mr.  Alletson  was  sensitive,  extremely  so  ;  and  he 
had  no  desire  to  encounter  the  "  sceptic's  smile." 
He  was  quite  well  aware  of  the  average  sceptic's 

A   WOMAN'S   FEARS  43 

idea  of  clergymen,  and  although  he  knew  it  was  not 
true,  any  suggestion  of  it  was  Hable  to  irritate,  and 
he  had  no  wish  to  cause  friction. 

But  there  was  the  other  side  to  it.  His  neigh- 
bour would  perhaps  take  him  seriously,  and  really, 
so  far  as  he  knew,  he  was  a  man  of  broad 
mind,  and  one  not  Ukely  to  dismiss  the  matter 
with  ridicule. 

Then  again,  why  should  he  ask  advice,  particu- 
larly from  a  layman  ?  Why  not  go  to  the  Bishop  ? 
The  Vicar's  eyes  twinkled,  and  he  dismissed  his 
Lordship.  No  !  he  would  let  the  thing  keep,  at 
any  rate  for  the  present.  So  far  as  he  knew,  no 
actual  harm  had  been  done.  He  would  wait  and 

As  the  morning  advanced,  he  recovered  some- 
what from  his  indisposition.  His  nervous  system 
assumed  a  more  normal  state,  and  the  depressed  feel- 
ing with  which  he  had  begun  the  day  evaporated. 
By  lunch  time  he  had  almost  forgotten  the  in- 
cident, in  fact  his  mind  was  busily  occupied  with 
parish  matters. 

Taking  these  things  into  consideration,  it  was 
curious  that  immediately  after  lunch  he  went  to 
his  escritoire,  opened  it,  took  up  pen  and  paper, 
and  wrote  the  following  letter  : 

"  Dear  Mr.  Brentwood, — Please  excuse  my  im- 
portunity. I  am  taking  the  liberty  of  calling  upon 
you  on  Thursday  morning  next,  at  eleven  o'clock, 
and  shall  be  very  glad  indeed  if  you  will  spare  me 
an  hour. 

"  The  notice  is  exceedingly  short,  but  as  you 
know,  my  time  is  much  occupied,  and  I  am  anxious 


to  see  you  immediately  upon  a  matter  which  is  of 
grave  importance. 

"  I  feel  sure  you  can  help  me,  and  you  will  do  so 
when  I  have  put  the  case  before  you. 

"  I  must  add  that  I  would  not  have  troubled 
you  in  this  abrupt  manner,  if  I  did  not  feel  that 
immediate  action  should  be  taken. — Believe  me, 
yours  sincerely,  Philip  Alletson." 

Every  action  connected  with  the  writing  of  it 
was  deliberate,  from  the  putting  in  of  the  date 
to  sending  the  maid  to  the  post.  It  looked  as  if 
he  had  done  it  in  spite  of  his  recent  decision,  and 
this  occurred  to  him  shortly  after,  when  it  was  too 
late  to  retract. 

He  felt  annoyed,  it  was  not  usual  for  him  to  go 
back  on  a  decision,  once  he  had  made  up  his  mind. 
Why  had  he  done  it  ?  He  tried  to  think  it  out, 
and  failed  to  satisfy  himself. 

It  was  not  very  comfortable.  Could  it  be  that 
he  was  losing  his  grip  on  things  ?  "  Umph."  Pass- 
ing out  into  the  hall,  he  put  on  his  hat  and  cloak. 
Really,  he  must  dismiss  it  from  his  mind  for  the 
present.  He  had  a  big  afternoon's  work  before 
him  and  time  was  getting  on. 

That  evening,  at  the  District  Visitors'  meeting, 
the  disappearance  of  Miss  Hobson  was  dwelt 
upon  at  some  length.  During  the  discussion, 
something  occurred  to  the  Vicar  which  had  not 
entered  his  head  before.  What  if  his  strange 
experience  had  any  connection  with  it  ?  At  first 
he  rather  ridiculed  the  idea  ;  there  seemed  to  be 
no  Unk.  But  before  he  went  to  bed  that  night 
the  thought  grew  stronger  and  stronger,  until  he 

A   WOMAN'S   FEARS  45 

began  to  take  it  seriously.  If  such  were  the  case, 
then  it  no  longer  remained  a  personal  matter,  and 
it  would  be  his  duty  to  consult  someone  else. 

Finally,  he  made  up  his  mind  to  put  the  whole 
facts  before  Mr.  Brentwood  on  Thursday  morn- 
ing, irrespective  of  his  personal  feelings.  He  was 
bound  to  do  all  all  he  knew  to  try  and  clear  up  the 
extraordinary  mystery  surrounding  Miss  Hobson 
and  Mr.  Thornton. 



Clang  !  clang !  clang !  clang !  clang !  The  mellow 
tones  of  the  church  clock  of  Worlstoke,  striking 
the  hour  of  five,  floated  slowly  and  distinctly  upon 
the  still  morning  air. 

As  the  last  chime  died  away  in  the  distance, 
Hugo  Alexis  Brentwood,  the  Master  of  Storton 
Manor,  became  suddenly  and  acutely  aware  that 
he  was  fully  awake,  staring  blankly  into  the  dark- 
ness ! 

Not  a  sound,  not  a  movement — everything 
around  was  wrapped  in  absolute  calm.  He  was 
the  only  spark  of  life  there,  quite  alone,  seemingly 
suspended  in  space. 

It  did  not  appear  to  him  at  all  extraordinary, 
nor  did  he  feel  in  any  way  uneasy.  To  be  quite 
clear,  he  had  no  definite  thoughts.  He  was  simply 
there,  keenly  alert,  without  any  of  that  drowsiness 
usually  experienced  when  awaking  from  slumber. 

Physically  unconscious,  he  had  no  sense  of  things 
external,  but  there  was  a  far-away  vague  idea  that 
he  was  floating  in  the  ether  ;  beyond  that  nothing 
except  this  very  real  mental  wakefulness,  as 
though  his  whole  entity  was  concentrated  on  some- 
thing that  was  going  to  happen. 

He   tried   to   think,    to   reason,   but   his   efforts 

failed   completely ;     some   force   seemed   to   have 


AT   THE   BREAK   OF   DAWN  47 

taken  control  of  his  mind  and  was  holding  it  in 

There  was  something  oppressive  about  the  silence 
which  enveloped  him,  yet  he  could  not  bring  his 
thinking  powers  to  analyse  it,  try  as  he  would.  He 
knew  it,  knew  that  he  was  in  it ;  further  his  mind 
refused  to  take  him. 

Nightmare !  Of  course,  that's  what  it  was. 
Mechanically  he  went  to  switch  on  the  electric 
light  by  the  side  of  the  bed,  but  his  hand  merely 
passed  up  and  down  through  the  air.  In  a  vague 
way  this  startled  him,  though  he  did  not  for  the 
moment  realise  that  he  should  have  touched  the 
switch,  if  he  had  been  in  bed. 

Oh  !  well,  he  must  get  out  and  find  it — the 
darkness  was  irritating,  and  nightmare  was  not 
agreeable.  He  made  as  if  to  rise,  and  then  some- 
thing jolted  in  his  mind  and  set  the  currents  of 
thought  running.    There  was  no  bed  ! 

A  sudden  feeling  of  fear  gripped  him.  Where 
was  he  ?  What  had  happened  ?  He  had  a  great 
desire  to  stand  on  something  soUd,  and  instinc- 
tively his  hands  went  forth  to  grasp — anything, 
just  to  hold  on. 

Almost  immediately  he  had  a  swaying  sensation, 
and  felt  that  he  was  being  propelled  in  some 
curious  manner.  This  was  followed  by  a  feeling 
that  he  was  being  compressed,  bound  tightly  in  a 
small  space.  Simultaneously  he  was  conscious  of 
standing  in  his  night  attire,  at  the  east  window 
of  his  study  in  the  tower,  looking  intently  across 
the  fields  at  the  approaching  dawn. 

A  puff  of  cold  air  blew  in  his  face,  making  him 
shiver ;     and   with    this   return    of   physical    con- 


sciousness,  he  discovered  that  he  was  half  leaning 
out  of  the  open  window,  with  his  hands  tightly 
gripping  the  casement  on  either  side. 

Even  now  he  did  not  fully  comprehend  the 
situation.  Somehow  his  faculties  were  not  working 
in  unison  ;  as  one  manifested  itself  the  others  seemed 
to  become  dormant. 

Perfectly  still,  without  any  visible  sign  of  breath- 
ing, he  might  have  been  a  statue  as  he  thus 
stood,  while  consciousness  slowly  filtered  into  his 

He  was  not  yet  able  to  grasp  the  fact  that  the 
last  thing  he  could  remember  was  getting  into 
bed  the  previous  evening,  and  that  under  ordinary 
circumstances  he  should  be  there  now. 

To  all  appearances  he  looked  as  if  he  had  gone 
through  an  awe-inspiring  ordeal,  which  had  bereft 
him  of  power  to  think  or  move.  His  dark-skinned 
face,  with  its  ordinarily  firmly-set  features,  was 
drawn  with  pain,  while  the  bloodless  Ups,  tightly 
set  in  a  straight  line,  were  those  of  a  man  holding 
back  a  cry  of  agony. 

Gradually  the  tension  relaxed  ;  he  was  able  to 
think  in  a  normal  manner,  and  as  he  became  fully 
cognisant  of  the  circumstances,  he  drew  in  a  sharp, 
quick  breath. 

For  a  few  seconds,  which  seemed  hours,  the  shock 
of  the  reaction  seemed  to  paralyse  the  heart's 
action;  then  that  organ,  beating  with  hammer 
strokes,  sent  the  blood  pulsing  over  his  body  in  a 
rushing  stream.  This  continued  for  fully  half  a 
minute,  until  the  naturally  strong,  healthy  body 
of  the  man  reasserted  itself,  and  shaking  off  the 
attack,  resumed  its  normal  state. 

AT   THE    BREAK   OF   DAWN  49 

He  was,  however,  perspiring  freely,  and,  men- 
tally, he  felt  anything  but  normal.  The  incident 
had  been  extremely  unpleasant,  and,  moreover, 
this  was  the  sixth  or  seventh  time  it  had  occurred 
during  the  past  twelve  months  ! 

Now,  as  on  other  occasions,  it  had  left  behind 
a  disturbing  influence  of  something  objectionable 
having  happened,  though  it  was  but  vaguely  con- 
veyed to  the  mind,  being  merely  a  dim  impression 
arising  from  an  unknown  source.  To  be  quite 
frank,  he  could  not  remember  anything  that  had 
taken  place  between  the  moment  of  retiring  and 
the  moment  of  waking. 

Little  by  little  he  gained  complete  control  of 
himself,  and  with  a  shudder,  silently  closed  and 
fastened  the  window ;  then,  with  uncertain  gait, 
he  went  heavily  down  the  stairs  to  his  bedroom 
underneath  the  study.  Hastily  donning  his  dress- 
ing-gown and  slippers,  he  returned,  and  sinking 
into  a  large  divan  chair,  tried  to  collect  his 

It  was  some  little  time  before  he  could  settle 
down  to  think  consecutively,  his  mind  would  go 
wandering  off  in  various  directions ;  but  eventu- 
ally he  became  calmer,  and  began  to  sort  things 
out.  So  far  as  he  could  see,  there  was  nothing 
at  all  connected  with  these  uncomfortable  ex- 
periences, excepting  that  every  one  of  them  had 
happened  about  dawn.  They  came  at  irregular 
intervals  and  at  various  times  of  the  year. 

To  the  ordinary  way  of  thinking,  it  looked 
merely  a  question  of  sleep-walking,  and  a  case  for 
a  medical  man.  That  it  was  a  question  for  a 
doctor  Mr.  Brentwood  was  fully  aware  ;   but  what 



doctor  ?  There  he  had  come  to  a  full  stop,  for 
though  not  acting  professionally,  he  was  a 
Bachelor  of  Medicine  himself,  and  had,  from  a 
professional  standpoint,  carefully  diagnosed  his 
own  symptoms,  without  success.  He  knew,  none 
could  know  better,  that  it  was  not  a  case  of  som- 
nambulism. He  was  perfectly  sound  in  mind  and 
body  and  had  strong  nerves.  Probably  at  this 
juncture  he  might  have  consulted  a  specialist,  but 
he  was  not  yet  at  the  end  of  his  own  resources. 

During  his  younger  days,  when  a  medical 
student,  the  enforced  close  study  of  physiology 
had  very  soon  led  him  into  that  of  psychology, 
which  latter  science  he  had  tenaciously  set  himself 
out  to  master — at  least  all  that  was  known  of  it. 

He  had  been  instinctively  drawn  toward  the 
subject,  partly,  perhaps,  owing  to  the  fact  that 
Eastern  blood  was  in  his  veins.  Here,  he  thought, 
he  might  find  a  clue  to  the  strange  malady  which 
afflicted  him,  but  he  had  to  admit  to  himself  that 
the  chances  were  not  great,  for  knowledge  of  the 
science  at  best  was  meagre,  and  its  ramifications 
were  many. 

However,  he  quite  saw  that  if  he  discarded  this 
course  there  was  no  allernative  ;  so  slowly  and 
deliberately  he  decided  to  probe  the  mystery  to  the 
bottom — partly  because  his  position  was  far  from 
comfortable,  and  he  foresaw  that  the  strain  of 
such  a  complaint  as  this  was  bound  to  tell  sooner 
or  later  on  the  strongest  constitution,  and  partly 
because,  being  of  a  masterful,  dogged  nature,  he 
distinctly  disliked  to  be  baffled  by  anything. 

During  the  thirty-nine  years  of  his  existence, 
ever  since  he  could  remember,  he  had  stubbornly 

AT   THE   BREAK   OF   DAWN  51 

fought  all  obstacles  that  had  come  across  his  path, 
and  in  the  same  way  he  would  light  this  one. 

Naturally,  he  desired  to  cure  the  complaint  if 
possible,  but  beyond  that,  the  mind  of  the  man, 
trained  in  science,  was  keenly  anxious  to  analyse 
the  problem.  Research  was  second  nature  to  him, 
and  the  last  fifteen  years  of  his  life  had  been  spent 
in  that  direction,  nine  of  them  in  the  East,  the 
home  of  his  mother. 

If  there  was  one  point  more  than  another  which 
troubled  him,  it  was  that  each  time  he  had  under- 
gone the  uncanny  experience,  he  had  for  days 
afterwards  found  himself  trying  to  recollect  what 
had  happened  during  the  period  between  going 
to  sleep  and  the  rude  awakening. 

To  his  cold,  calculating  mind,  this  was  irrational. 
He  had  no  knowledge  whatever  that  he  had  dreamed 
about  anything,  and  it  was  the  more  unlikely,  as 
he  was  a  man  who  rarely  dreamt. 

He  would  at  once  have  discarded  the  thought, 
if  it  had  not  been  for  the  possibiUty  that  he  might 
have  dreamed,  and  failed  utterly  to  remember 
anything  of  his  dream  on  the  return  to  normal 

Even  then,  he  would  not  have  seriously  con- 
sidered the  point,  but  for  the  fact  that  he  in- 
tuitively had  a  strong  impression  he  had  dreamed. 
Here  again  he  appeared  to  be  getting  off  the 
beaten  track — there  was  no  evidence  at  all  that 
he  had  dreamed,  but  why  that  impression  ?  It  was 
so  very  strong,  he  could  not  utterly  disregard  it. 
He  smiled  sHghtly,  as  he  thought  that  if  he  had 
discarded  all  such  impressions  he  would  not  have 
been  alive  at  the  present  time.     His  experience 


had  taught  him  that  some  things  which  appeared 
most  unreasonable,  were  only  so  because  they  were 
not  understood. 

One  other  point  occurred  to  him  as  rather 
curious.  The  tower-room  (his  study)  had  two 
windows,  one  facing  east  and  the  other  west. 
Now,  on  each  occasion  when  he  had  gone  through 
this  strange  experience,  it  had  always  been  at  the 
east  window  where  he  had  discovered  himself  ! 

There  was  no  apparent  reason  why  such  small 
points  as  these  should  be  taken  into  serious  con- 
sideration. There  was  no  basis  even  upon  which 
to  formulate  anything  with  regard  to  them ;  only 
the  man  had  had  too  broad  an  experience  of  Ufe 
to  be  "sure"  of  things,  and  he  therefore  reserved 
his  decision. 

Still  thinking,  he  at  last  fell  into  a  quiet  sleep, 
and  for  the  time  being  ceased  to  be  troubled  with 
the  pros  and  cons  of  the  case.  He  breathed  easily 
and  regularly,  and  his  strong  face  showed  little, 
if  any,  trace  of  the  strain  to  which  he  had  been 
subjected  just  over  an  hour  ago. 

That  was  not  unnatural,  for  he  had  lived  a  hard 
Ufe,  and,  as  mentioned  before,  nine  years  of  it  in 
parts  of  the  East,  where  foreigners  are  apt  to  carry 
their  lives  in  their  hands,  so  to  speak,  and  get 
accustomed  to  shocks  and  precarious  positions. 

During  that  long  absence  from  England,  he  had 
become  imbued  with  Eastern  lore,  and  his  know- 
ledge of  it  was  radical  and  extensive.  Being  half 
an  Eastern,  channels  of  learning  were  open  to  him 
which  are  barred  to  the  Westerner,  and  of  that 
he  had  taken  full  advantage. 

His  study  of  psychology,  as  understood  by  the 

AT   THE   BREAK   OF   DAWN  53 

Western  schools  of  thought,  had  left  him  hungry 
for  more  knowledge.  He  had  discovered  that  there 
were  great  gaps  in  it,  and  he  determined,  if  it 
lay  in  his  power,  to  fill  them.  So  to  that  end  he 
gave  the  best  years  of  his  life,  making  exhaustive 
research  in  the  homeland  of  his  mother's  people, 
often  risking  his  life  in  obtaining  results  upon  which 
he  could  securely  build.  And  he  had  not  sought 
and  worked  in  vain.  Later  on,  the  value  of  his 
research  was  recognised  by  Europe. 

Incidentally,  his  knowledge  was  to  stand  him 
in  good  stead  before  very  long.  The  time  was  not 
far  distant  when  certain  human  lives,  which  seemed 
to  be  at  the  mercy  of  unknown  powers,  were  saved 
mainly  through  the  application  of  that  learning 
which  he  had  acquired. 

When  he  awoke  it  was  past  eight  o'clock,  and 
the  sunUght  was  streaming  brightly  into  the  room. 
Rousing  himself,  he  descended  to  his  bedchamber, 
bathed,  dressed,  and  went  downstairs  to  the  break- 

After  ordering  his  morning  meal,  he  proceeded 
to  open  the  letters.  These  he  glanced  through 
rapidly,  and  placed  them  in  a  little  heap  on  his 
left  hand,  with  the  exception  of  one,  which  he 
carefully  read  through  again.  It  was  that  which 
the  Vicar  of  Worlstoke  had  written  to  him  the 
previous  day. 

Mr.  Brentwood  frowned  and  pinched  his  under 
lip  with  his  finger  and  thumb.  What  could  it  be 
that  would  cause  Mr.  AUetson  to  come  to  him  for 
help  ?  In  their  different  ways,  the  Vicar  and  he 
were  fairly  good  friends.  They  had  one  or  two 
interests    in    common,    and   had    spent    many    a 


pleasant  hour  together,  after  the  ice  had  been 

At  first  he  had  been  incHned  to  think  that  the 
Vicar  had  ulterior  motives  with  regard  to  his 
parish  and  church,  and  had  been  greatly  surprised 
to  find  that  he  never  mentioned  them.  That  was 
just  as  he  wished  it  to  be,  for  he  was  not  a  Church- 
man, and  had  no  desire  to  take  any  part  in  Church 

But  that  letter  made  him  feel  a  Httle  uneasy ; 
it  looked  as  if  Mr.  Alletson  were  at  last  going  to  in- 
troduce "business."  The  Master  of  Storton  looked 
hard  at  the  coffee-pot.  If  the  Vicar  did,  it  was 
probable  there  would  be  an  end  to  future  pleasant 
hours.  Neither  by  money  nor  action  would  he 
support  the  Church  of  England,  or  any  other 
Church  ;  and  if  the  Vicar  had  any  such  idea  in 
his  mind,  well ! 

Here  he  began  to  attack  his  breakfast,  with  un- 
usual vigour.  The  truth  was  not  always  agreeable, 
and  it  was  quite  within  the  bounds  of  possibility 
that  Mr.  Alletson  would  be  offended. 

Having  finished  his  repast,  he  went  into  the 
hbrary  and  wrote  the  following  note  : 

*'  Storton  Manor, 


2isi  April  19 — . 

"Dear  Mr.  Alletson, — I  shall  be  at  home  to- 
morrow, Thursday,  at  eleven  o'clock  a.m.  If  I 
can  be  of  any  assistance,  I  shall  be  happy  to  help 
you,  so  long  as  it  does  not  clash  with  my  principles. 
I  shall  expect  you  to  stay  to  lunch. — Yours  sin- 
cerely, H.  A.  Brentwood." 

AT   THE   BREAK   OF   DAWN  55 

Before  sealing  the  note,  he  carefully  read  it 
over  again,  and  after  a  few  minutes'  hesitation 
decided  it  would  do. 

He  did  not  wish  to  give  offence  in  any  way,  if  he 
could  help  it,  yet  he  was  quite  clear  in  his  mind 
that  he  must  give  a  hint  to  the  Vicar  that  he 
would  not  help  in  a  matter  with  which  he  was 
not  in  sympathy. 

Little  did  he  guess  into  what  strange  paths  of 
mystery  and  evil  the  subject  about  which  his 
friend  wanted  to  consult  him  would  lead  them 
both  !  Had  he  known  then,  what  the  next  few 
months  were  to  bring  forth,  it  is  doubtful  whether 
he  would  have  seen  the  Vicar  at  all. 

But  then,  the  future  is  seldom  revealed,  and 
perhaps  (who  can  tell  ?)  it  is  better  for  humanity 
that  most  things  are  not  foreseen. 



Agar  Halfi,  the  Hindoo,  sat  on  the  floor  of  the 
living-room  of  his  lodge,  with  legs  crossed  in  true 
Eastern  fashion.  The  table  on  which  he  usually 
had  his  meals  had  been  pushed  back  against  the 
wall,  and  he  sat  on  the  hearthrug,  looking  steadily 
into  the  fire.  In  his  hand  was  a  piece  of  paper, 
upon  which  were  drawn  strange  hieroglyphics. 
At  intervals  he  stared  at  them  doubtfully,  as  though 
trying  to  solve  some  problem,  the  key  of  which  he 
had  mislaid. 

In  the  right-hand  comer  of  the  fireplace,  under- 
neath a  large  cupboard  fixed  in  the  wall,  a  great 
bull-mastiff  sat,  winking  lazily  at  the  flames.  In 
this  he  seemed  to  be  at  one  with  his  companion, 
though  what  was  passing  through  his  canine  mind 
is  a  matter  of  conjecture.  Occasionally  he  opened 
his  tremendous  mouth,  and  yawned  indifferently, 
as  though  to  show  his  contempt  for  the  trivial 
thing  that  was  perplexing  the  man. 

No  doubt,  to  him,  men  were  always  funny 
creatures,  but  to  see  one  of  them — and  above  all 
one  for  whom  he  had  much  respect — worrying  over 
strange  characters  on  a  bit  of  paper,  was  enough  to 
make  even  a  grave  dog  like  Hector  smile. 

Still,  he  had  had  his  breakfast,  and  Agar  Halfi's 
peculiarities  didn't  really  matter,   so  long  as  he 



(Hector)  could  blink  at  the  warm  fire,  undisturbed. 
This  kind  of  madness  which  sometimes  came  over 
his  friend  had  its  advantages,  for  so  long  as  the 
Hindoo  wasted  his  time  soliloquising  over  the  fire. 
Hector  knew  that  he  could  sit  in  peace.  He  pre- 
ferred Agar  Halfi's  sitting-room  to  his  kennel,  and  the 
longer  his  friend  brooded,  the  longer  he  could  stay. 

It  was  a  dull,  cold  morning,  and  Agar  Halfi  and 
the  dog,  who  had  both  been  out  since  daybreak, 
were  each  in  his  own  way  enjoying  the  rest  and 
the  warmth  of  the  fire.  Hardly  a  sound  broke 
the  stillness,  except  the  monotonous  ticking  of  an 
old  grandfather's  clock,  and  the  occasional  dropping 
of  the  fire,  as  it  gradually  burned  away. 

The  Hindoo  might  have  sat  thus  for  hours ; 
he  was  almost  dead  to  external  things,  but  that  the 
grandfather's  clock,after  giving  a  warning whirr-r-r-r, 
slowly  struck  the  hour  of  ten.  This  interruption 
broke  his  train  of  thought,  for  he  looked  up  and 
noted  the  time.  Then  turning  his  attention  to 
the  dog,  he  gazed  at  him  steadily  for  about  half 
a  minute.  The  animal  was  too  much  absorbed  in 
the  fire  to  be  greatly  disturbed  by  that,  but  the 
restless  movement  of  his  eyes  denoted  he  was  well 
aware  of  the  attention  that  was  being  paid  to  him. 
At  length  the  man  exclaimed  : 

"  Hector  !  " 

The  dog  pricked  up  his  ears,  instinctively,  but 
beyond  that  did  not  move. 

The  Hindoo  looked  at  him,  half  in  sorrow,  half 
in  anger. 

"  Hector,  you  lazy  beast,  there  is  going  to  be 
trouble  for  you  and  me.  What  do  you  think  of 
that  ?  " 


Except  for  a  slight  movement  of  his  tail,  which 
indicated  that  he  had  heard,  the  dog  did  not  stir ; 
but  continued  to  blink  at  the  fire. 

"  Do  you  understand,  son  of  a  thief  ?  "  con- 
tinued Agar  Halh  impressively.  "  For  all  I  know, 
before  this  moon  dies,  aye,  before  it  reaches  the 
full,  you  will  only  be  carrion  fit  for  the  crows  to 

Even  this  startling  outlook  did  not  appear  to 
upset  Hector ;  he  only  wagged  his  tail  a  Uttle 
more.  What  was  going  to  happen  in  the  dim 
future  was  no  concern  of  his.  What  no  doubt 
did  trouble  him,  was  the  fact  that  now  the  Hindoo 
had  roused  himself,  it  would  soon  be  time  to  go 
to  his  kennel ;  and  though  clean  straw  and  litter 
were  nice  and  warm,  a  fire — well,  it  was  a  luxury. 

Agar  Halfi  glowered  at  him  sternly  : 

"  Sometimes  you  have  the  soul  of  a  respectable 
being,  but  get  you  near  a  fire,  and  you  have  the 
soul  of  a  pig.     Do  you  understand — outcast  ?  " 

Hector  dropped  his  head  a  httle  at  the  other's 
reprimanding  tone,  but  did  not  move. 

"Come  here!" 

The  dog  yawned  in  a  bored  sort  of  fashion,  and 
slowly  getting  on  to  his  legs,  shambled  rather  than 
walked  over  to  Agar  Halfi,  and  licked  his  cheek. 

The  Hindoo  put  out  his  arm,  and  seizing  hold  of 
the  loose  skin  of  the  animal's  neck,  pushed  him 
vigorously  away. 

"  Lie  down,  idiot !  "  he  exclaimed. 

In  nowise  disconcerted  by  this  discourteous 
treatment.  Hector  obediently  stretched  his  great 
length  on  the  hearthrug,  close  by  his  friend,  and 
rested  his  muzzle  on  his  two  paws. 


Agar  Halfi  again  turned  his  eyes  to  the  fire,  and 
for  a  long  while  he  sat  thus,  motionless,  except  for 
the  sUght  heave  of  his  chest,  and  the  occasional 
movement  of  his  lips  as  he  whispered  strange 
words  to  himself. 

At  length  he  rose,  and  going  over  to  the  cup- 
board, took  from  a  shelf  a  roll  of  papers.  Resuming 
his  seat,  he  began  to  look  them  through.  The 
first  three  he  put  on  the  rug  after  a  cursory  glance 
at  each,  the  fourth  he  stopped  to  look  at  a  little 
longer.  When  he  had  finished  with  it,  he  put  it 
on  the  dog's  back,  and  said  : 

"  That's  yours,  my  friend,  and  a  worse  nativity 
I've  never  seen — at  least  for  some  things."  He 
paused  and  looked  into  the  animal's  big  brown 
eyes,  but  the  dog  only  bUnked  at  him  uncon- 
cernedly, so  Agar  Halfi  continued  : 

"  Do  you  know,  dolt,  that  you  will  probably  die 
a  violent  death  ?  " 

Hector  wagged  his  tail  as  though  the  idea 
pleased  him.  Perhaps  he  believed  in  the  old 
saying  that  a  man  (or  a  dog  for  that  matter)  can 
only  die  once,  so  it  does  not  matter  how,  when, 
or  where. 

The  Hindoo  looked  at  him  sardonically.  What 
was  the  use  of  talking  to  a  brute,  some  would 
say  ?  But  ah,  what  he  said  to  the  dog  he  knew 
would  not  be  repeated,  and  he  said  a  good  many 
things  to  Hector  that  he  would  not  have  trusted 
to  a  man. 

"  If  you  only  had  sense  enough,  I  might  be  able 
to  show  you  how  to  avoid  it,  but  you  haven't. 
Still,  the  soul  of  you  is  better  than  the  souls  of 
most  men,  for  you  are  honest,  and  faithful,  even 


if  you  have  weaknesses  for  a  fire,  and  raw  meat ; 
and  perhaps  I  may  be  able  to  help  you  out  of  that 
hole,  my  friend." 

Hector  snorted  indifferently,  as  much  as  to  say, 
"  I  don't  know  what  you  are  talking  about,  and 
I  don't  much  care." 

The  Hindoo  turned  again  to  the  roll  of  papers, 
and  at  last  pulled  out  one  that  he  wanted.  It 
represented  the  horoscope  of  the  Master  of  Storton, 
for  in  the  left-hand  top  corner  was  inscribed 
"H.  A.  B.,  17th  January  18—."  Underneath 
was  a  square  map  of  the  heavens,  divided  into 
twelve  houses,  showing  the  zodiacal  signs,  with 
the  places  of  the  planets  noted  therein  for  the  time 
of  birth.  Below  this  was  a  Hst  of  computations, 
probably  the  directions  of  the  horoscope. 

Agar  Halfi  ran  his  eye  down  the  latter,  until  he 
came  to  the  following :  "  Zod.  D.D.  39  years 
5  months.     ))  6  ^  a  <?  ! " 

He  studied  the  symbols  closely.  He  had  no 
doubt  about  the  calculations,  he  had  compiled  them 
himself,  and  checked  them  twice.  This  was  the 
fortieth  year  of  Mr.  Brentwood's  life,  and  these 
aspects,  especially  the  evil  aspect  of  the  moon 
to  Mars,  had  been  active  since  the  beginning  of  the 

Slowly  he  read  the  rest  of  the  directions,  until 
he  came  to  the  bottom  of  the  page,  and  there 
his  eye  was  arrested  by  a  note,  which  was  as 
follows  : 

"  At  the  time  of  the  new,  or  full  Moon,  should 
the  Sun  enter  the  fifth  house  of  the  heavens,  you  will 
be  in  danger  of  your  life  from  four-footed  beasts.  In 
your  40th  year,  when  at  that   time   the   planet 


Neptune  throws  its  evil  rays  to  the  lesser  luminary, 
you  will  be  subject  to  strange  and  weird  experiences ; 
and  should  the  planet  Mars  cast  an  adverse  ray,  a 
violent  death  will  encompass  you." 

The  Hindoo  drew  in  a  long  breath.  "That  is 
Fate,"  he  muttered.  "It  is  what  is  written." 
Then  he  smiled  a  grim  smile.  "Strong  men  can 
overcome  Fate  !  " 

He  turned  suddenly,  and  eyed  the  dog  intently, 
at  the  same  time  exclaiming  : 

"  And  your  master  also  will  probably  die  a 
violent  death  !  " 

Hector  received  this  piece  of  information  quite 
undisturbed,  looking  calmly  at  the  man  with  his 
big  soft  eyes.  Agar  Halfi  returned  the  dog's  gaze 
mechanically,  his  mind  being  engrossed  with  the 
paragraph  at  the  bottom  of  Mr.  Brentwood's 

Suddenly  Hector  pricked  his  ears,  jumped  up, 
and  went  over  to  the  door.  He  sniiffed  loudly  at 
the  bottom  of  it,  as  though  uncertain,  and  then 
wagged  his  tail.  The  next  moment  footsteps 
sounded  outside,  there  was  a  low  knock,  and  Agar 
Halfi  rose  to  face  the  Master  of  Storton. 

For  some  moments  the  two  men  looked  at  each 
other  in  silence,  the  Hindoo  with  solemn  eyes,  the 
other  with  half-smiling  sarcastic  ones. 

At  last  Brentwood  said  easily  : 

"  WeU,  is  there  anjrthing  that  is  not  quite  as  it 
should  be  ?  " 

Agar  Halfi  shrugged  his  shoulders  as  he  replied  : 

"I  feel  that  the  Sahib  has  been  subjected  to  a 
severe  mental  strain." 

The   Master   of   Storton   laughed   oddly   as  he 


seated  himself  on  the  edge  of  the  table,  and  nodded 
his  head  by  way  of  acquiescence. 

"  That  is  true,  but  surely  I  don't  show  it  in  my 
countenance  ?  " 

The  Hindoo  smiled  at  the  remark. 

"  No,"  he  retorted.  "  The  Master  of  Storton 
seldom  shows  anything  by  his  face." 

Brentwood  looked  amused,  as  he  replied  question- 
ingly  :  "  H  my  face  did  not  show  it,  how  did  you 
know  ?  " 

"Surely  the  Sahib  knows  that  as  well  as  I 
do,"  was  the  solemn  answer.  "  You  came  here 
to  tell  me  something.  When  we  met,  that  some- 
thing was  dominating  your  mind.  We  looked  at 
each  other,  my  mind  became  attuned  to  yours 
— ascended  or  descended  to  the  same  plane  of 
consciousness.  WTiat  you  wanted  to  say  was 
being  projected  from  your  mind  along  this  par- 
ticular plane,  and  my  mind  being  on  the  same 
plane,  the  thought  naturally  came  to  my  under- 

"Not  only  that.  Agar  Haiti,  but  the  thought 
returned  from  your  mind  to  mine,  and  I  became 
aware  that  you  were  cognisant  of  that  which  I 
wanted  to  convey  to  you.  It  is  what  we  in 
England  call  telepathy,  and  it  has  recently  been 
fairly  well  estabUshed  as  a  scientific  truth." 

The  Hindoo  laughed  sarcastically.  "  Surely, 
Sahib,  the  ancients  used  it  long  ago  !  " 

"I  don't  doubt  that,"  returned  the  other;  "at 
any  rate,  it  would  be  difficult  to  explain  some 
things  that  they  accomplished,  without  the  medium 
of  telepathy.  I  was  merely  saying  that  Western 
thought  had  only  just  discovered  it." 


"  And,"  added  Agar  Halfi,  "  will  go  on  dis- 
covering other  things  which  are  not  new." 

The  Master  of  Storton  acquiesced  with  a  sigh. 
"I'm  afraid  that  Western  civilisation  is  too  much 
absorbed  in  amassing  worldly  wealth  at  present 
to  get  much  more  forward  in  things  that  really 
matter ;  consequently,  the  higher  faculties  of  the 
race  can  only  develop  very  slowly.  Still,  what  I 
came  to  tell  you  is,  that  last  night  I  had  another 
of  those  queer  experiences." 

Here  the  Master  of  Storton  related,  as  far  as  he 
could  remember,  what  took  place. 

"  What  do  you  make  of  it  ?  " 

The  Hindoo  slowly  shook  his  head.  "  I  cannot 
grasp  it,  except  that  it  seems  to  bear  out  that  which 
is  foretold  in  your  nativity." 

"  You  mean,  1  take  it,  that  concerning  my  being 
in  danger  of  a  violent  death  about  this  period  of 
my  life  ?  "  remarked  Brentwood  coolly. 

"  Quite  so,"  answered  Agar  Halfi.  "  Those 
experiences  of  yours  are  psychic  ones,  which  are 
all  traceable  to  the  influence  of  the  rays  from  the 
planet  Neptune,  and  it  is  that  planet  which  is  at 
the  present  time  evilly  active  in  your  life." 

A  silence  followed  the  Hindoo's  last  remark. 
At  length,  rising  from  the  table  with  a  grim  sort 
of  "umph,"  the  Master  of  Storton  took  from  his 
pocket  the  letter  which  he  had  that  morning  re- 
ceived from  the  Vicar  of  Worlstoke,  and  handed 
it  to  his  companion.  Agar  Halfi  read  it  through 
carefully,  then  handed  it  back.  "  You  will  see 
him,  I  suppose,  Sahib  ?  " 

"  Yes,  I  have  written  saying  I  will.  I  am 
rather  curious  to  know  what  he  wants  to  consult 


me  about  so  particularly.  What  do  you  make 
of  it  ?  " 

"  When  I  held  the  letter  in  my  hands  I  had  an 
impression,  but  it  may  not  be  of  any  consequence," 
remarked  the  Hindoo  indifferently. 

"One  never  knows,"  replied  Brentwood.  "Tell 
me  what  it  was  ?  " 

Agar  Halfi  characteristically  shrugged  his 
shoulders,  as  he  replied  : 

"  Simply  that  it  indirectly  concerned  you  !  " 

"  Me !  "  exclaimed  the  other.  He  looked 
thoughtfully  at  the  wall,  then  continued  :  "  May- 
be, but  it  is  hardly  possible." 

"  Do  you  require  the  car  to-day  ?  " 

"  No ;  1  have  to  go  to  Westsea,  but  I  shall  walk, 
and,"  glancing  at  the  dog,  "  Hector  may  as  well 
come  with  me."  Saying  which,  he  called  the 
animal  to  him  and  went  out. 

For  some  minutes  Agar  Halfi  stood  looking 
solemnly  after  his  retreating  figure,  then  once 
more  shrugging  his  shoulders,  he  resumed  his 
examination  of  the  Master  of  Storton's  horoscope. 



On  Thursday  morning,  at  the  appointed  hour, 
the  Rev.  Philip  Alletson  made  his  way  to  the  Manor. 
The  maid  who  answered  the  door  admitted  him  im- 
mediately, and  conducted  him  up  to  the  tower  study. 

His  host  was  not  there,  so  he  went  and  seated 
himself  upon  the  "  Chesterfield  "  that  filled  the 
recess  of  the  west  window.  Considering  the  short 
time  he  had  been  at  Worlstoke,  he  knew  the  room 
well.  Many  a  pleasant  hour  had  he  spent  in  it 
with  his  friend,  over  a  game  of  chess,  or  in  dis- 
cussing mutually  interesting  subjects. 

He  always  felt  at  home  in  this  room,  with  its 
comfortably  arranged  furniture.  There  was  a  sense 
of  Eastern  luxury  in  it,  conveyed  no  doubt  by 
the  beautifully  figured  tapestry  that  draped  the 
north  and  south  walls ;  the  thick,  richly  coloured 
rugs  that  covered  the  well-poUshed  floor,  and  the 
heavily  upholstered  furniture.  In  fact,  the  only 
article  of  modem  appearance  was  a  plain  leather- 
topped  writing-desk  in  the  east  window,  supple- 
mented by  a  business-like  swivel  oak  chair. 

As  he  thought  of  these  things  he  grew  easier, 
and  the  doubt  he  had  about  Brentwood's  attitude 
respecting  what  he  was  going  to  say,  almost 

He  gave  a  sigh  of  rehef,  and  turning  his  head, 

65  E 


looked  out  of  the  window.  Far  away  over  the 
rich  fields  he  could  see  the  restless  changing  sea, 
sweeping  across  the  Bristol  Channel ;  while  to 
the  south  he  could  just  discern  the  end  of  the 
low-water  pier  of  Westsea.  It  was  a  beautiful 
view,  with  the  rich  green  fields  running  almost 
to  the  edge  of  the  bay.  Here  and  there  amongst 
the  green  were  farms  and  cottages,  while  splashes 
of  white  at  irregular  intervals  denoted  the  winding 
road  that  ran  from  the  shore  through  Storton  to 
the  old  priory  at  Melsea. 

While  thus  absorbed,  the  door  quietly  opened, 
and  his  host  entered  ^  noiselessly.  Seeing  that 
his  visitor  was  preoccupied,  he  took  advantage  of 
the  fact  to  contemplate  him  at  his  leisure. 

"  Yes,"  he  thought,  "  the  Vicar  has  a  good 
face,  there  is  strength  in  it  too,  shown  by  the 
firmly  set  mouth  and  jaw."  Here  he  paused,  sur- 
veying him  critically.  "Eyes  rather  too  closely 
set,  tending  to  narrowness,  but  that  to  some  ex- 
tent obviated  by  a  fairly  broad  brow.  Tempera- 
ment nervous,  very  nervous,"  He  almost  said 
"unfortunately  so,"  but  instead  he  only  said 
"  umph,"  which  observation  caused  the^  Vicar  to 
turn  suddenly  round. 

He  rose  immediately,  and  crossing  the  room, 
shook  hands  with  his  host,  who,  in  his  quiet  way, 
greeted  him  cordially  enough. 

The  contrast  between  the  two  men  was  very 
marked,  as  they  stood  facing  each  other.  The 
one  tall  and  slender,  with  grey  eyes  set  in  a  rather 
stem  face,  almost  ascetic,  his  temperament  highly 
strung  and  imaginative.    The  other,  half  Eastern, 

A   SAINT   AND   A   SINNER  67 

with  dark '  skin,  deep  brown  dreamy  eyes,  and 
closely  cropped  black  hair,  yet  heavily  built,  de- 
noting great  physical  strength,  full-blooded  and 
healthy,  and  possessed  of  a  cool  and  calculating 
mind,  that  rarely  lost  its  balance. 

"  I  hope,"  began  the  Vicar,  "  you  will  forgive 
this  informality.     Really,  I " 

"Oh,  that  is  all  right,"  interrupted  the  other. 
"  If  the  matter  is  so  important  as  your  note  indi- 
cates, there  is  no  question  of  formality.  Let's  get 
seated  and  then  you  can  begin." 

Alletson  settled  himself  down  in  one  of  the 
comfortable  chairs,  and  then  comprehensively  and 
concisely  related  his  experience  of  the  Monday  night, 
right  down  to  when  he  lost  consciousness  in  the 
summer  arbour. 

Here  he  paused  and  looked  at  Brentwood,  who 
had  been  gazing  out  of  the  window  while  he  was 
speaking.  The  silence  caused  the  other  to  glance 
round,  and  for  a  minute  he  eyed  his  friend  question- 
ingly.  Then  he  rose  slowly,  and  approaching  him, 
said  shortly,  "  Let  me  feel  your  pulse." 

The  Vicar  drew  in  his  breath  and  started  forward 
in  his  chair.  This  was  just  what  he  had  dreaded.  Was 
he  going  to  laugh  at  him  ?  However,  he  controlled 
himself  and  held  out  his  left  arm. 

The  Master  of  Storton  watched  the  second  hand 
of  his  watch,  in  silent  ease.  When  he  had  finished, 
he  resumed  his  seat  and,  without  saying  an5rthing, 
returned  his  gaze  to  the  window,  waiting  for  the 
other  to  proceed. 

There  was  a  pause.  The  Vicar  did  not  quite 
understand.    He  was  not  aware  that  his  host  was 


a  doctor,  and  it  looked  as  though  he  were  joking. 
Before  he  proceeded  any  further  he  must  know  in 
what  hght  he  viewed  the  narrative. 

"  Do  you  take  me  seriously  ?  "  he  asked  rather 

The  other  turned  and  slightly  lifted  his  brows. 

"  Why  should  I  not  ?  " 

AUetson  looked  relieved. 

"  I  hardly  understood  your  testing  my  pulse." 

Brentwood  looked  enlightened  and  replied  : 

"  Oh,  I  see.  I  simply  did  that  just  to  prove  to 
myself  that  you  were  normal.  Will  you  please 
proceed  ?  I  take  it  that  you  have  not  told  me  all 
you  want  to  say  ?  " 

"  To  be  quite  plain,"  continued  AUetson,  "  I 
believe  there  is  some  power  at  large  in  the  neigh- 
bourhood, something  evil,  and  that  it  has  caused 
the  disappearance  of  Elsie  Hobson  and  Henry 
Thornton  !  " 

Brentwood  faced  round  with  a  jerk.  He  was  not 
necessarily  surprised,  but  this  conclusion  seemed  to 
cause  him  to  concentrate  his  attention. 

"  What  should  make  you  think  it  has  caused  the 
disappearance  of  those  two  people,  presuming  that 
such  a  power  as  you  fiave  mentioned  is  at  large  ?  " 

The  Vicar  shrugged  his  shoulders  in  despair. 
Here  he  felt  he  might  fail  with  his  neighbour. 
These  scientific  men  were  such  sticklers  for  hard 
facts,  and  he  had  none  of  those  facts  to  give. 

"  I  am  afraid  I  cannot  satisfactorily  answer 
that,  but  let  me  be  as  exphcit  as  I  can.  Inwardly 
I  feel  quite  sure  about  it.  Somehow  or  other  I 
know;   just  the  same  as  I  know  that  there  is  a 

A   SAINT   AND   A   SINNER  69 

sympathetic  link  between  you  and  me,  -though  I 
could  not  explain  it." 

Brentwood  got  up  and  walked  to  the  window,  and 
for  a  space  looked  out  silently.  He  felt  he  had 
somewhat  misjudged  this  man.  He  was  almost 
certain  before  he  came  that  the  matter  he  wished 
to  discuss  was  something  to  do  with  the  Church, 
and  he  regretted  that  even  in  thought  he  should 
have  wronged  him.  At  last  he  walked  back  to 
his  chair  and  said  : 

"  Cannot  you  give  me  any  idea  why  you  should 
think  such  a  thing  ?  Haven't  you  any  train  of 
thought  which  leads  up  to  it  ?  " 

"  To  be  quite  frank,  No  !     But  I  '  sense  '  it." 

"  '  Sense  '  it  ?  "  echoed  his  host.  "  Excuse  me 
cross-examining,  AUetson,  but  it  is  necessary  if  we 
are  to  arrive  at  a  common  basis.  What  do  you 
mean  by  '  sense  '  it  ?  " 

The  Vicar  thought  for  a  minute. 

"  It  would  be  very  difficult  for  me  to  explain 
that ;  but  really  I  think  you  understand  what  I 

His  friend  looked  grimly  amused. 

"  You  repose  a  lot  of  confidence  in  me.  Do  you 
know  how  the  scientific  mind  interprets  that  word 
when  it  is  used  (or  rather  I  should  say  '  abused') 
outside  its  ordinary  meaning  ?  " 

"  No,  I  don't." 

"  Imagination." 

A  hard  expression  came  into  Alletson's  eyes. 
Brentwood  noticed  it,  for  he  added  quickly  : 

"  But  I  quite  understand  that  that  is  not  what 
you  wished  to  convey  to  me.     What  you  mean,  I 


take  it,  is,  outside  your  known  five  physical  senses, 
you  have,  through  one  or  more  as  yet  unknown 
senses,  become  cognisant  of  this  evil  force.  Is  not 
that  so  ?  " 

His  friend  looked  relieved. 

"  That's  exactly  what  I  mean.  It  is  a  similar 
sensing  to  that  which  one  has  when,  say,  going  out 
of  an  ordinary  room  into  a  cathedral.  Do  you 
understand  ?  " 

The  other  laughed.  "  Yes,  I  do  understand, 
although  your  analogy  might  easily  be  explained 
away  by  the  different  structure  of  the  two  build- 
ings. Remember  that  the  vastness  of  a  cathedral 
and  the  ominous  silence  usually  connected  with  it 
naturally  impress  one  with  a  feeling  of  littleness 
and  consequently  of  awe.  But  what  made  me 
laugh  was  the  fact  that  your  explanation  reminded 
me  of  a  so-called  Eastern  mystery  which  I  came 
across  in  Circassia.  There  are  two  caves  in  one 
of  the  mountains  of  the  Caucasus,  very  nearly  alike. 
One  is  called  *  Evil,'  wherein  the  devil  is  supposed 
to  dweU,  and  the  other  '  Good,'  where  God  resides. 
The  rogues  who  run  this  show  invite  guileless 
strangers  to  see  for  themselves,  solenmly  warning 
them  not  to  treat  the  mystery  lightly,  as  they  are 
in  the  hands  of  powerful  influences. 

"  The  effect  is  remarkable.  You  are  shown  firstly 
into  the  cave  '  Good,'  and  soon  you  are  astonished 
at  the  happy  feeling  that  comes  over  you.  Then 
you  go  into  the  cave  '  Evil,'  similar  in  size,  shape, 
and  appearance  to  the  other,  and  in  about  two 
minutes  most  people  gladly  come  out,  with  a 
feeling  that  their  hair  is  standing  on  end.     It  is 

A   SAINT   AND   A   SINNER  71 

merely  a  clever  trick  of  Oriental  magic.  However, 
to  return  to  the  main  path ;  I  take  it  you  seriously 
want  me  to  probe  this  matter  ?  " 

"  To  that  end  I  have  come  here  with  the  fixed 
intention  of  obtaining  your  co-operation,  if  it  is 

Brentwood  thought  seriously  for  a  time.  At  last 
he  said : 

"  Have  you  had  any  practical  experience  of 
things  of  this  nature  ?  " 

The  Vicar  hesitated  somewhat. 

"  WeU,  I  can  hardly  say.  I  have  studied  hyp- 
notism fairly  closely,  also  magic,  but  I'm  afraid 
I  know  more  of  the  theory  than  the  practice  of 

His  host  looked  interested. 

"  Have  you  had  any  results  ?  " 

"  In  hypnotism,  yes ;  I've  had  some  queer 
results.  When  in  the  third,  or  trance  stage,  my 
sister — ^with  whom  I  conducted  the  experiments 
— ^forewarned  me  of  a  serious  breakdown  in  health 
which  came  true.  On  one  occasion  she,  apparently 
without  any  effort,  told  me  where  to  find  my  signet 
ring,  which  I  had  mislaid  some  three  months  pre- 
viously and  given  up  for  lost.  That  was  done 
when  the  matter  was  far  from  my  mind,  in  fact, 
almost  forgotten.  Another  time  she  exclaimed  in 
a  joyous  voice  that  she  was  free  and  was  going 
away.  For  an  hour  or  more  I  could  not  get  her  to 
speak,  and  I  was  beginning  to  feel  uneasy.  All 
the  colour  had  left  her  face  and  her  breathing 
was  hardly  perceptible.  At  last,  much  to  my 
reUef,   she  began  to  come  round,   and    then  she 


started  to  upbraid  me,  saying  I  was  cruel  to  call 
her  back,  and  entreating  me  to  let  her  go  again. 
Unfortunately  she  could  not  remember  any- 
thing of  this  episode  when  in  the  normal  state. 
These  in  particular,  and  some  minor  results,  I 
have  had." 

The  Master  of  Storton  opened  his  eyes  widely. 
He  had  no  idea  his  friend  had  progressed  that  far 
in  such  a  study.  He  was  really  surprised,  though 
he  did  not  say  so. 

"  Have  you  had  any  experience  of  vampires, 
werewolves,  or  anything  of  the  kind  ?  " 

The  Vicar  laughed. 

"  Of  course  I've  read  about  them,  if  that's  what 
you  mean." 

Brentwood  repeated  his  question,  though  this 
time  he  emphasised  the  word  "  experience." 

His  friend  looked  at  him  in  amazement. 

"  No !  certainly  not.  But  surely  you  don't 
mean  to  suggest  that  such  things  exist  except  in 
legend  ?  " 

His  host  surveyed  him  calmly,  and  there  was  a 
suggestion  of  mockery  in  his  eyes.  How  was  it, 
he  thought,  that  so  many  folk  jumped  to  conclusions 
upon  certain  things,  particularly  of  this  stamp, 
without  attempting  to  verify  them  ?  Here  was  a 
man  intellectually  in  the  prime  of  life,  well- 
educated  and  well-read,  who,  while  admitting  that 
he  knew  practically  nothing  about  them — ex- 
cepting what  he  had  casuaUy  read — ^was  satisfied 
that  they  did  not  exist !     It  was  irritating. 

"  Have  you  ever  travelled  in  the  East  ?  " 

"  No,  I've  never  been  further  than  Italy." 

A   SAINT   AND   A   SINNER  73 

"  You  know  that  I  have  spent  some  years  out 
there  ?  " 

"  Yes." 

"  Do  you  know  what  I  was  doing  ?  " 

The  Vicar  looked  a  little  guilty.  He  was  con- 
scious that  he  had  sought  information  about  his 
neighbour;  not  bluntly,  but  had  taken  oppor- 
tunities when  they  occurred  to  obtain  knowledge 
of  him. 

"  Well,  I  understand  that  you  were  engaged  in 
pyschological  research . ' ' 

"  Quite  so.  Incidentally,  I  had  to  investi- 
gate other  things  closely  connected  with  it,  and 
my  experiences  have  led  me  to  grave  conclusions. 
To  be  quite  plain,  I  am  convinced  that  the  exist- 
ence of  10-called  vampires  and  werewolves  is  not 
based  on  myth.  Some  of  the  extraordinary  pheno- 
mena I  have  witnessed  and  dealt  with  have  settled 
that  point  in  my  mind,  beyond  doubt ;  though 
there  is  of  course  a  good  deal  of  superstition  mixed 
up  with  the  matter  and  its  origin  is  obscure." 

Alletson  studied  the  carpet.  His  friend's  tone 
was  serious  and  sincere ;  besides,  so  far  as  he 
knew,  Brentwood  was  not  a  man  to  play  with 
words.  But  this  was  remarkable  news  ;  it  had 
never  occurred  to  him  that  there  could  possibly 
be  any  truth  in  such  things — ^it  was  generally 
taken  for  granted  that  they  were  myth,  and  that 
idea  was  so  firmly  implanted  in  his  mind  it  could 
not  be  eradicated  at  once. 

"It  is  difficult  to  believe,"  he  said,  "though 
I  cannot  contradict  what  you  say;  but  it  seems 


"  The  tricks  of  the  illusionist  seem  incredible 
until  we  find  out  how  they  are  done,"  was  the 
terse  reply.  "  But  let  me  remind  you,  as  Shake- 
speare said,  '  There  are  more  things  in  heaven 
and  earth  than  are  dreamt  of  in  our  philosophy,' 
We  are  too  apt  to  take  things  for  granted.  The 
tendency  of  the  present  age  seems  to  be  :  We  know 
this  and  we  know  that ;  what  we  don't  know 
is  not.  Could  anything  be  more  arrogant  ?  Is 
it  not  more  rational  to  allow  that  things  which 
appear  to  be  impossible  may  be,  than  to  assume 
that  what  we  don't  know  cannot  be  ?  " 

The  Vicar  smiled  interestedly. 

"  If,"  he  replied,  "  I  am  to  take  up  the  cudgels 
for  modem  thought,  I  would  answer  that  although 
it  is  argued  that  what  we  don't  know  is  not,  the 
analysis  of  it  is  that  though  a  thing  may  exist, 
it  is  unknowable  to  us,  and  therefore,  as  far  as  we 
are  concerned,  it  is  not." 

"  Your  answer  is  the  one  that  is  usually 
put  forward  ;  but  do  you  take  that  view  your- 
self ?  " 

"  I'm  afraid  I  don't.  Beyond  a  certain  point,  I 
trust  largely  to  intuition ;  and  no  reasoning  I  can 
bring  to  bear  can  affect  that  view." 

Brentwood  half  closed  his  eyes. 

"  If  I  may  say  so,  I  take  it  that  that  applies  to 
you  in  your  religion  ?  " 

The  Vicar  was  silent  a  moment,  then,  looking 
straight  at  his  friend,  replied  frankly  : 

"  Certainly,  no  broad-minded  cleric  would  attempt 
to  narrow  down  his  religion  to  a  creed." 

"  Quite  so,"   said  the  other ;    "  and  yet   a   few 

A   SAINT   AND   A   SINNER  75 

minutes  ago  you  did  not  make  use  of  the  same 
principle  when  I  mentioned  werewolves  and  vam- 

"  That  is  true,"  answered  the  Vicar;  "  but  is  not 
your  analogy  a  little  irrelevant  ?  There  is  a  rea- 
sonable basis  for  philosophy  and  also  for  rehgion ; 
but  I  don't  think  you  can  say  that  much  for 
vampires,  et  cetera.  Someone  may  have  dreamed  of 
such  things  very  vividly  in  the  first  place,  and 
believed  they  were  actually  real.  Besides,  there 
is  no  evidence  upon  which  to  build." 

Brentwood  smiled  a  httle  satirically. 

"  I'm  afraid  I  must  contradict  you  there,  and 
proof  of  what  I  say  would  make  my  analogy  rele- 
vant. But  be  that  as  it  may,  what  strikes  me 
so  very  palpably  is,  that  where  a  thing  is  bred  in 
one's  blood  and  bone — ^like  Christianity  for  nearly 
two  thousand  years,  and  like  the  belief  in  vampires 
and  werewolves  for  a  much  longer  period  still — 
no  amount  of  antipathetic  environment  seems  able 
to  entirely  eradicate  it ;  and,  consequently,  edu- 
cated people  of  all  nationalities  unconsciously  give 
themselves  certain  latitude  with  their  own  parti- 
cular racial  pecuharities,  i.e.  allow  their  intuitive 
faculties  to  play  upon  them.  But  when  it  comes 
to  another  person's  national  eccentricities,  Oh  no, 
that  is  idle  legend  !  " 

The  Vicar,  who  had  listened  attentively,  took  a 
long  breath.  There  was  undoubtedly  reason  in  his 
friend's  argument,  but  he  spoke  in  such  a  confident 
tone  that  it  slightly  irritated  him.  Usually  the 
boot  was  on  the  other  foot — it  was  the  clerical  mind 
that  adopted  that  attitude.    He  smiled  amusedly 


as  he  thought  of  the  many  times  he  had  seen  and 
heard  his  colleagues  speak  thus. 

"  You  are  very  confident,"  he  said  at  last.  "  Are 
you  so  absolutely  sure  of  what  you  say  ?  For 
instance,  how  can  you  speak  with  authority  about 
the  hereditary  instincts  of  the  Eastern  races ; 
although  you  have  studied  them,  you  cannot 
actually  know  what  they  feel  ?  " 

"  Perhaps  the  simplest  way  of  answering,"  re- 
plied the  other,  "is  to  tell  you  at  once  that  I  am 
not  an  Englishman.  There  is  Hindoo  blood  in  me 
from  my  mother,  who  was  half  a  Circassian." 

He  paused  to  see  what  effect  his  words  would 
have  on  the  Vicar,  but  the  latter,  if  surprised,  did 
not  give  vent  to  it ;  he  merely  nodded  his  head, 
and  his  friend  continued  : 

"  So  you  see  I'm  fairly  capable  of  judging 
from  that  standpoint,  as  well  as  from  a  Western 
one.  However,  to  return  to  the  subject  of  your 
call.  Do  I  understand  that  Miss  AUetson  is 
mediumistic  ?  " 

"  Yes,  she  has  power  in  that  way." 

"  Is  she  aware  of  what  you  have  told  me  ?  " 

"  No.  I  have  not  mentioned  anything  to  her. 
I  did  not  see  that  it  could  serve  any  useful  pur- 
pose at  present.  On  the  other  hand,  I  concluded 
that  it  might  upset  her  peace  of  mind." 

"  Have  you  any  other  reason  for  withholding 
this  matter  from  her  ?  " 

"  No,"  he  rephed,  "  but  I  see  no  reason  why  I 
should  inform  her." 

"  Well,  I  think  she  could  assist  us  in  no  small 

A   SAINT   AND   A   SINNER  77 

"  Indeed ! " 

Their  eyes  met,  and  for  a  time  they  looked  at 
each  other.  He  could  not  have  said  why,  but  the 
first  thought  that  entered  AUetson's  head  was 
one  of  resentment.  No,  he  would  not  draw 
Constance  into  it.  But  the  thought  vanished  for 
the  time,  almost  as  soon  as  it  was  born. 

His  host  seemed  to  read  it,  for  he  said  quietly  : 

"  I  think  you  may  take  my  word  for  it  that  no 
harm  would  come  to  your  sister.  So  far  as  I  am 
aware,  it  would  only  be  necessary  for  her  to  act 
as  the  medium  of  one  or  two  experiments,  which 
appear  to  me  essential  if  we  are  to  obtain  any 
clue.  But  of  course,  if  you  would  rather  not  draw 
her  into  the  case,  I  will  not  pursue  the  matter 

The  Vicar  was  silent.  There  was  really  no  good 
reason  to  refuse,  yet  he  could  not  help  but  realise 
that  he  wanted  to  do  so.  While  he  hesitated,  his 
sister's  words,  "  Promise  you  will  let  me  know  all 
that  you  do,"  came  back  to  his  memory  and  decided 
his  answer  : 

"  Very  well,  I'll  put  the  position  to  her,  but  of 
course  she  must  decide  for  herself." 

"  I  take  it,"  said  Brentwood  drily,  "  that  you 
wish  to  keep  things  as  quiet  as  possible,  at  any 
rate  for  the  time  being,  and  the  fact  of  your 
sister  being  the  medium  would  ensure  secrecy. 
Moreover,  she  is  to  some  extent  acquainted  with 
the  case." 

"  Quite  so,  quite  so,"  rephed  the  Vicar.  "  I 
have  little  doubt  but  that  she  will  be  willing  to 
assist  us." 


"  There  is  just  one  more  thing  I  would  like  to 
add,"  went  on  the  Master  of  Storton.  "  I  shall 
want  to  take  into  my  confidence,  in  a  matter  of 
this  kind,  my  chauffem:.  Agar  Halfi,  the  Hindoo." 

Alletson  looked  up  a  little  surprised  as  he 
repHed  : 

"  Certainly,  if  you  think  it  necessary." 

"Well,"  continued  the  other,  "I  do.  He  has 
had  great  experience  of  such  matters,  besides  the 
fact  that  he  was  with  me  during  all  my  travels. 
Now,  I  don't  think  we  can  get  much  further  at 
present,  and  I  am  sure  you  must  be  hungry.  Let 
us  go  and  have  some  lunch." 



Arthur  Shepperton  held  the  position  of  managing 
clerk  to  the  firm  of  solicitors  Dalby  &  Co.,  Westsea. 
He  was  fully  qualified  in  his  profession,  Mr.  Dalby 
having  some  six  years  back  given  him  his  articles  ; 
and  the  future  held  bright  prospects  of  a  junior 

He  was  a  business-like  young  man,  and  had  earned 
the  confidence  of  his  employer  by  industry  and  per- 
severance ;  added  to  which,  he  had,  during  the 
twenty-eight  years  of  his  existence,  led  a  careful 
and  regular  life,  if  somewhat  narrow  and  confined, 
and  bided  fair  to  become  a  highly  respected  and 
successful  citizen. 

From  his  point  of  view,  Ufe's  outlook  was  a  rosy 
one,  and  but  for  unforeseen  circumstances  j^he  would 
probably  have  lived  the  life  of  a  respectable  middle- 
class  person  until  his  death — ^unconsciously  ground 
between  the  millstones  of  Capital  and  Labour,  as 
most  middle-class  people  are. 

Now  unforeseen  circumstances  have  a  nasty  knack 
of  upsetting  the  quiet  trend  of  people's  lives,  par- 
ticularly those  people  who  least  want  their  lives 
interfered  with.  There  is  a  certain  section  of  the 
community — ^probably  the  mainstay  of  the  country — 
which  desires  nothing  more  than  to  be  able  to  work^; 
honestly  and  live  respectably  in  peace  ;  and  yet  it 



is  frequently  from  this  class  that  "  Fate  "  draws 
individuals  to  play  aggressive  parts  in  the  world. 

The  disappearance  of  Elsie  Hobson  (his  fiancee) 
had  been  a  great  blow  to  Arthur  Shepperton  ;  in- 
deed it  seemed  to  completely  daze  him  for  a  time. 
Outwardly  he  had  sustained  it  well  enough,  but 
inwardly  the  effect  was  different.  It  seemed  to  have 
awakened  some  unfortunate  trait  in  his  character, 
long  dormant,  which  would  in  all  probability  never 
have  manifested  under  ordinary  circumstances. 

The  humdrum  everyday  life  of  the  average  person 
does  not  tend  to  bring  out  true  character — ^rather  the 
reverse  ;  nor  does  it  help  to  make  character.  It  is 
the  exceptional  and  violent  incidents  in  our  lives 
that  mould  the  real  self  ;  whether  for  good  or  evil, 
depends  upon  some  law  about  which  we  know  little 
or  nothing  ;  all  we  can  say  for  certain  is,  that  one  of 
these  exceptional  occurrences  may  strike  an  evolu- 
tionary note  in  the  individual,  or,  on  the  other  hand, 
may  develop  an  atavistic  tendency. 

In  this  particular  case  the  violent  incident,  instead 
of  encouraging  the  nobler  tendencies,  gave  a  fiUip  to 
the  revengeful  instinct ;  and  after  the  first  effects  of 
the  shock  had  passed  away,  Arthur  Shepperton  was 
left  in  a  rather  dangerous  state  of  mind.  He  bitterly 
resented  the  fact  that  he  should  have  to  suffer  as  he 
did  for  no  apparent  reason,  and  he  strongly  desired 
to  be  revenged  on  someone  or  something,  though  he 
was  not  clear  on  whom  or  what.  If  he  had  stopped 
to  reason,  he  would  have  seen  the  futility  of  such  a 
course  ;  but  his  mind  was  distorted  and  dominated 
by  the  primitive  ii*tinct  referred  to. 

Mr.  Dalby  had  shown  him  generous  sympathy  in 


his  trouble,  and  had  released  him  indefinitely  from 
his  business  duties.  Thus  it  happened  that  the 
morning  after  the  interview  between  the  Vicar  and 
Brentwood,  related  in  the  last  chapter,  Arthur 
Shepperton  found  himself  by  the  old  priory,  after 
a  long  and  lonely  walk. 

He  felt  tired,  and  was  much  relieved  to  see  an  old 
rustic  seat  under  a  tree.  Making  his  way  to  it,  he 
sat  down  thankfully,  resting  his  elbows  on  his  knees 
and  his  chin  on  his  hands. 

He  was  depressed,  in  spite  of  the  bright  morning 
and  cheerful  sunshine,  and  stared  at  the  ruined 
building  before  him  with  expressionless  eyes. 

The  whole  problem  of  Elsie's  disappearance  baffled 
him  completely  ;  he  had  no  clue  whatever  that 
might  lead  him  to  a  solution.  That  was  the  worst 
of  it,  he  was  merely  groping  in  the  dark,  with  the 
faint  hope  that  he  would  soon  be  able  to  drop  on 
something  which  might  lead  to  an  explanation. 
What  a  relief  it  would  be  to  his  brain  if  he  could 
only  act,  even  with  but  the  slightest  idea  that  he 
was  on  the  right  track. 

Almost  mechanically  he  once  more  began  to  go 
over  the  few  facts  of  the  case  which  were  known 
to  him,  but  his  mind  would  not  act  normally,  and 
try  as  he  would  to  control  them,  he  could  not  get  his 
thoughts  to  run  in  sequence. 

Somehow  or  other  he  found  himself  wondering,  in 
a  dreamy  sort  of  way,  what  the  monks  were  like  who 
used  to  inhabit  the  priory.  He  was  not  the  least 
bit  interested,  it  did  not  matter  to  him  ;  but  the 
idea  would  keep  cropping  up  just  v|^en  he  was  trying 
to  connect  one  point  with  another. 


Every  now  and  then  the  question  kept  coming  into 
his  head,  "  What  could  have  happened  ?  "  He 
wished  he  could  get  rid  of  that  query.  It  had  been 
hammered  into  his  brain  for  the  last  fortnight  and 
had  become  wearisome. 

Once  (and  he  laughed  derisively  as  he  thought  of 
it)  the  idea  had  entered  his  head  that  the  late  Vicar 
and  Elsie  had  prearranged  it  all  and  gone  away 
together  !  Eloped  !  !  Why  should  he  think  of  such 
a  thing  ?  He  should  be  the  last  to  entertain  a  theory 
of  that  kind.  He  would  have  been  ashamed  to  sug- 
gest it  to  anyone,  and  as  a  fact  had  discarded  the 
idea  as  soon  as  it  appeared.  Yet  he  could  not  help 
feehng  that  it  was  possible,  and  he  was  uncomfort- 
ably aware  that  they  had  been  great  friends. 

He  sighed  wearily  ;  why  could  he  not  forget  all 
about  it  ?  Why  should  he  have  all  this  trouble  ? 
His  face  sank  into  his  hands,  and  he  looked  restfuUy 
into  the  blackness  caused  by  the  pressure  of  his 
fingers  on  his  eyelids.  Tired  out,  he  half  dozed,  and 
again  began  to  think  about  the  monks.  After  all, 
it  was  a  relief  to  let  his  mind  play  at  random,  after 
the  last  two  weeks  of  mental  storm  and  physical 

He  fancied  he  saw  several  of  them  walking  slowly 
along,  chanting  some  mournful  air.  The  prior,  a 
tall  gaunt  man  with  raven  black  curly  hair,  brought 
up  the  rear  of  the  procession.  His  hands  were 
crossed  on  his  breast  and  he  seemed  deeply  engrossed 
in  some  weighty  problem.  Walking  in  double  file, 
they  approached  a  door  in  the  wall,  through  which 
they  gradually  disappeared.  He  counted  them  as 
they  went  through,  and  was  just  wondering  whether 


the  prior  would  shut  the  door  after  him,  when  he  was 
aware  that  that  individual  had  suddenly  turned 
round  and  was  looking  at  him  with  a  pair  of  fierce 
dark  eyes,  that  flamed  like  fire.  Just  for  a  moment 
and  then  the  vision  vanished,  and  he  started  into 
wakefulness,  instinctively  sure  that  he  had  heard 
someone  cough  !  He  looked  up  at  the  priory,  the 
direction  from  which  the  sound  came,  and  listened. 
Who  could  be  there  at  that  time  of  the  day  ?  It 
was  barely  seven  o'clock.  Quietly  rising,  he  stepped 
noiselessly  across  the  grass  to  the  doorway  in  the 
waU,  the  one  by  which  he  fancied  he  saw  the  monks 
disappear,  and  looked  through.  Seeing  no  one,  he 
walked  cautiously  on  until,  rounding  a  comer  of  a 
ruined  wall,  his  eyes  came  in  contact  with  something 
which  brought  him  to  a  halt.  ,  .  .  Seated  upon  the 
floor  of  what  onc^  used  to  be  the  chapel  was  a  man 
writing  or  drawing  something  upon  the  stone  flags. 
So  deeply  was  he  engrossed,  that  evidently  he  had  not 
heard  anyone  approach.  Shepperton  eyed  him  curi- 
ously, and  his  interest  aU  at  once  increased  as  he 
recognised  who  it  was. 

His  first  thought  was  to  make  known  his  presence  ; 
but  something — probably  his  legal  training — caused 
him  to  alter  his  mind.  For  one  thing,  although  he 
knew  Mr.  Brentwood,  the  latter  did  not  know  him. 
Besides,  the  situation  rather  appealed  to  the  detec- 
tive in  his  nature,  and  there  was  something  so  out  of 
the  ordinary,  that  Shepperton  was  curious  to  know 
what  was  going  to  happen. 

He  watched  for  about  a  minute,  and  then  with- 
drawing carefully,  silently  retraced  his  footsteps 
to  the  door  in   the  wall ;   but   instead  of   passing 


through  to  the  left,  he  went  on  along  the  path  for 
about  six  yards  and  turned  sharply  round  the  chapel 
wall  to  the  right.  Here  he  would  wait  until  the 
gentleman  had  finished  his  early  mass  !  When  he 
had  gone,  it  would  be  very  interesting  to  go  and 
inspect  his  handiwork. 

If  it  did  occur  to  Shepperton  that  it  was  not  quite 
the  thing  to  spy  upon  someone  else,  that  was  out- 
weighed by  his  resentment  towards  this  man,  who, 
ever  since  he  came  to  live  in  the  neighbourhood,  had 
shown  quite  plainly  that  he  wished  to  be  left  alone. 
That  of  itself  was  sufficient  to  cause  resentment  in 
a  nature  like  Shepperton' s.  He  judged  the  man  to 
be  selfish  ;  moreover,  he  was  conscious  of  the  fact 
that  Brentwood  had  remained  silent  all  through  the 
little  storm  caused  by  Elsie's  disappearance — ap- 
parently unmoved  by  the  tragedy.  Yes,  it  would 
be  interesting  to  find  out  what  did  have  any  attrac- 
tion for  this  very  reserved  person. 

He  must  have  stood  there  quite  ten  minutes  before 
he  heard  Brentwood  moving  about.  Just  after,  his 
approaching  footsteps  resounded  on  the  hard  path  ; 
and  Shepperton's  heart  jumped  a  little,  as  it  all  at 
once  occurred  to  him  that  Brentwood  might  possibly 
come  to  where  he  was  standing.  It  would  not  be 
pleasant  to  be  found  thus  ;  at  the  very  least  it  would 
require  some  explanation.  He  breathed  more  freely 
as  he  heard  the  door  in  the  wall  close,  and  when  the 
sound  of  the  receding  footsteps  had  almost  died 
away,  he  quickly  made  his  way  to  the  chapel. 

To  his  surprise  and  disappointment  he  did  not 
discover  anything.  That  was  very  strange  ;  surely 
the  man  was  doing  something  there,  his  eyes  did  not 


deceive  him  about  that.  Very  carefuUy,  he  scruti- 
nised the  flagstones  round  about  where  Brentwood 
had  been  sitting,  but  could  not  make  anything  of 
them.  It  was  annoying,  for  he  certainly  was  draw- 
ing or  writing  when  Shepperton  saw  him.  He  was 
about  to  go  away  unsatisfied,  when  his  eyes  alighted 
on  something  white,  lying  on  the  floor.  Picking  it 
up,  he  discovered  it  to  be  a  plain  manilla  envelope, 
neither  sealed  nor  addressed.  There  was,  however, 
something  inside,  which  on  examination  proved  to 
be  a  photograph.  Not  an  ordinary  one  by  any 
means,  for  it  represented  what  was  evidently  a 
human  hand,  and  the  impression  of  a  bird's  foot, 
but  the  latter  was  more  than  five  times  as  large  as 
the  former  !  The  great  difference  in  the  relative 
sizes  was  so  apparent,  that  he  could  not  help  at  once 
noticing  it.  Shepperton  looked  at  it  intently  for  a 
minute,  then  carefully  putting  it  back  in  the  envelope, 
slipped  it  into  his  breast  pocket.  He  stood  for  a 
short  space,  thinking  earnestly,  then,  turning  sharply 
round,  made  his  way  home  as  quickly  as  he  could. 

On  reaching  his  apartments  he  went  straight  to 
his  sitting-room,  and  after  locking  the  door — ^he  was 
very  cautious  in  some  things — ^took  out  the  photo- 
graph and  thoroughly  examined  it.  Having  satisfied 
himself  that  there  was  no  name  or  mark  on  it,  except 
the  initials  "  H.  A.  B.,"  he  got  an  inch  rule  and  accu- 
rately measured  the  impression  of  the  foot,  which  he 
found  to  be  nearly  four  inches  long,  whereas  the  hand 
was  barely  one  inch  !  He  thought  of  all  the  big 
birds  he  had  heard  of,  but  could  not  call  to  mind  one 
that  would  have  a  foot  anything  like  that.  It  was 
a  queer  sort  of  thing.    The  photograph  of  the  hand 


had  evidently  been  taken  to  show  the  size  of  the  foot ; 
but  what  the  latter  represented  was  an  enigma.  He 
would  very  much  like  to  know,  particularly  as  there 
could  be  little  doubt  about  it  having  fallen  out  of 
Brentwood's  pocket. 

"  Yes,"  he  thought,  "  still  waters  run  deep,"  and 
perhaps  Brentwood  had  excellent  reasons  for  not 
wishing  to  associate  with  ordinary  human  beings. 

Now  what  could  he  have  been  up  to  in  the  priory  ? 
It  certainly  looked  as  if  he  were  engaged  on  some- 
thing out  of  the  way,  at  least.  The  more  Shepperton 
thought  it  over,  the  more  he  became  anxious  to 
know  what  had  happened  ;  and  the  more  he  thought 
of  Brentwood,  the  more  his  disHke  of  him  seemed  to 
grow.  From  his  own  point  of  view,  he  had  cause  to 
know  that  he  was  cold,  callous,  and  selfish,  and  he 
also  felt  that  a  man  who  secluded  himself  from  his 
fellow-beings  must  have  a  reason  for  it ;  that,  he 
argued,  was  not  likely  to  be  a  good  one.  Yes,  he 
would  watch  the  gentleman  ;  it  might  be  that  he 
would  find  something  out  very,  very  interesting. 
Meanwhile,  the  photograph  would  not  come  to  any 
harm  in  his  possession.  He  went  and  carefully 
locked  it  up  in  his  desk,  and  as  he  turned  the  key,  it 
struck  him  that  perhaps  the  Vicar  could  enhghten 
him  a  httle  about  Mr.  Brentwood  ?  Yes,  he  would 
go  and  see  him. 



Constance  Alletson  looked  steadily  out  of  her 
bedroom  window  at  the  viola  border  of  her  own 
flower  patch,  while  she  slowly  buttoned  on  her 
gloves.  She  was  going  to  the  Manor  with  her 
brother,  but  did  not  feel  quite  at  ease  about  it. 

Philip  had  told  her  everything  that  happened  at 
his  interview  with  Mr.  Brentwood,  not  even  with- 
holding his  own  weird  experience ;  and  after  seri- 
ously thinking  it  over,  she  had  decided — more  from 
a  sense  of  duty  than  anything  else — to  do  all  she 
could  to  assist  her  brother  in  his  endeavours  to 
clear  up  this  strange  case. 

She  was  somewhat  surprised  that  the  Master  of 
Storton  should  have  shown  any  interest  in  it.  She 
knew  her  brother  well  enough  to  believe  that  his 
point  of  view  would  hardly  interest  Mr.  Brentwood, 
and  she  would  have  been  quite  unmoved  if  Philip 
had  told  her  that  his  friend  had  laughed  at  him. 
From  what  she  had  gathered  about  scientific  people, 
and  from  her  experience  of  the  few  scientific  men 
she  had  met,  they  were  not  the  kind  to  look  seriously 
at  anything  outside  cut-and-dried  facts,  and  she 
failed  to  understand  why  Mr.  Brentwood  should  be 
an  exception. 

But  it  was  not  that  which  made  her  feel  un- 



easy ;  rather  she  would  have  enjoyed  pitting  her 
knowledge  and  strength  against  the  man.  In  this 
she  differed  from  her  brother,  who,  being  extremely 
sensitive,  would  have  taken  pains  to  avoid  such'  a 
measure.  The  fighting  spirit  was  prominent  in  her 
nature,  whereas  with  her  brother  it  was  not  readily 
called  into  action. 

No,  it  was  a  matter  which,  to  her  mind,  was  far 
more  serious.  There  was  something  about  Mr. 
Brentwood  to  which  she  was  averse.  She  had 
no  tangible  reason  for  this  dislike  ;  so  far  as  she 
could  make  out,  it  was  just  instinctive.  But  that 
did  not  alter  the  fact  of  its  existence,  and  although 
she  would  not  even  admit  to  herself  such  a  thing, 
it  almost  amounted  to  fear  !  It  would  be  useless 
to  explain  things  to  her  brother,  because — ^manhke — 
he  would  immediately  want  to  know  what  reason 
she  had  for  it ;  and  she  was  only  too  weU  aware  that 
men  generally  do  not  take  account  of  woman's  in- 
tuitive faculties — "  fancies  "  they  usually  call  them. 

So  it  was  with  mixed  feelings  that  she  finished 
her  toilet,  and  she  half  wished  that  her  promise  had 
not  been  given.  But  she  was  no  weakling,  and  now 
that  the  first  step  had  been  taken,  she  would  see  it 
through,  whatever  the  result. 

The  Master  of  Storton  was  sending  his  car  over  to 
fetch  them  ;  and  the  hoot  of  the  motor  horn  outside 
the  gate  brought  her  soliloquy  to  an  abrupt  end. 
Lightly  descending  the  stairs,  she  met  Philip  in 
the  hall  and  they  went  out  together. 

The  door  of  the  brougham  was  being  held  open 
by  Agar  Halfi,  who  saluted  them  respectfully. 
Constance  noticed  that  he  was  very  good-looking 


and  had  intelligent  eyes.  Evidently  he  was  a 
superior  type  of  native,  and  she  wondered  how  he 
came  to  be  in  Mr.  Brentwood's  service. 

As  they  drove  swiftly  along  she  chatted  gaily, 
being  determined  that  whatever  happened  she 
would  not  give  her  brother  cause  to  think  she  was 
at  all  uneasy. 

He  was  very  glad  to  find  her  in  such  an  excellent 
humour,  and  his  own  spirits  began  to  rise  a  little. 
He  had  entered  on  this  quest  with  heavy  misgivings, 
and  the  whole-heartedness  with  which  his  sister 
appeared  to  be  taking  the  matter  up  was  a  great 

"  Do  you  know,"  she  said,  "  I  hardly  like  being 
driven  by  this  chauffeur  of  Mr.  Brentwood's  ;  he  is 
such  a  grand,  dignified  person,  and  although  he 
saluted  us  so  very  respectfully,  I  am  sure  he  con- 
siders he  is  our  equal — ^his  manner  conveyed  it." 

The  Vicar  looked  a  little  sternly  at  the  back  of  the 
dark  blue  cushioned  seat  on  the  opposite  side  of  the 
brougham  before  he  replied. 

"  Do  you  mean  to  intimate  that  because  he  is 
dark-skinned  he  could  not  possibly  be  our  equal  ?  " 

Constance  laughed  outright. 

"  How  you  do  misconstrue  my  meanings.  Of 
course  I  didn't  mean  to  convey  anything  of  the 
sort.  What  I  did  intimate  was  that  it  seems  a 
shame  he  should  have  to  act  as  our  servant." 

She  paused,  then  added : 

"  I  should  rather  like  to  talk  to  him  ;  I'm  sure 
he  would  be  interesting." 

Phihp  glanced  at  her  a  little  surprised. 

"  You  are  not  usually  so  keen  about  talking  to 


men  of  your  own  race.  Why  such  a  sudden 
fancy  ?  " 

"  Nothing  strange  about  that  at  all,"  she  said. 
"  One  thing,  he  looks  so  intelligent,  and  another,  I 
cannot  help  feeling  that  he  is  a  gentleman,  in  spite 
of  his  dark  skin,  which  I  am  sorry  to  say  I  cannot 
state  about  all  men  of  my  own  race." 

Phihp  nodded  his  head  reluctantly. 

"  Unfortunately,  that  is  true.  But  it  is  not  by 
any  means  easy  to  get  Hindoos  to  talk,  I  under- 
stand ;  they  are  a  mysterious,  reticent  race,  and 
very  proud." 

"  I  wonder  how  he  came  to  get  into  Mr.  Brent- 
wood's service  ?  "  she  asked. 

Her  brother  shook  his  head  and  smiled,  then  said  : 

"  Probably  he  got  attached  to  him  during  his 
travels  in  India." 

"  Oh !  "  ejaculated  Constance,  surprised,  "  I  had 
no  idea  Mr.  Brentwood  had  been  there." 

She  sat  silently  musing  over  it,  and  did  not  speak 
again  until  the  slowing  down  of  the  car  told  them 
that  they  must  be  nearly  at  the  Manor. 

She  had  not  been  to  Storton  House  before,  and 
as  they  went  slowly  up  the  drive,  she  could  not  help 
admiring  the  well-kept  grounds  and  beautiful  flower- 
borders.  Everything  showed  taste  and  care,  right 
down  to  the  grass  edges,  which  were  perfectly 
trimmed  and  cut. 

Mr.  Blent  wood  appeared  almost  immediately 
they  crossed  the  threshold  of  his  house,  and  Con- 
stance felt  that  while  his  greeting  to  her  was  per- 
fectly correct,  his  manner  was  slightly  awkward  and 
certainly  appeared  to  be  cold.     On  the  other  hand 


she  saw  that  the  two  men  spoke  affably,  calUng  each 
other  by  their  surnames,  which  made  her  arch  her 
brows  a  Uttle  ;  she  did  not  know  they  were  on  such 
intimate  terms — Phihp  had  never  led  her  to  under- 
stand that.  Still,  it  was  a  pleasant  surprise,  for  her 
brother  was  most  unlikely  to  get  very  friendly  with 
any  sort  of  person,  he  was  so  reserved. 

Once  inside  the  room  which  their  host  had  had 
prepared,  Constance  was  more  at  ease.  It  was 
ideally  comfortable,  but  not  luxuriously  so,  and 
although  the  atmosphere  was  warm,  it  was  fresh. 
She  was  charmed,  too,  with  the  profusion  of  mag- 
nificent flowers  which  seemed  to  be  everywhere. 
It  was  such  a  delightful  surprise  to  find  them  at 
that  time  of  the  year. 

"  Really,  Mr.  Brentwood,"  she  exclaimed,  "  these 
are  beautiful.     I  envy  you." 

Her  host  smiled  quietly  in  acknowledgment,  then 
answered  : 

"  Flowers  are  one  of  my  weaknesses  ;  I  revel  in 
them.  But  I  have  to  thank  my  gardener  for  the 
luxury,  he  spares  no  pains  to  keep  me  well 

Constance  looked  at  him  with  interest.  It  was 
not  common  for  men  to  thank  their  servants  in  that 
way  for  what  they  did.  He  seemed  to  regard  it  as 
a  sort  of  favour  from  the  tone  of  his  voice. 

Brentwood  noticed  her  look  and  added  : 

"  He  is  an  artist  in  his  profession,  and  I  never 
interfere  in  his  work,  or  I  doubt  if  such  results  as 
you  now  see  would  be  forthcoming.  I  am  not  skilled 
in  the  art  of  floriculture." 

"  Mr.  Brentwood  is  too  modest,"   laughed  her 


brother,  "  I  myself  have  seen  him  hard  at  work  in 
his  own  conservatory." 

"  Quite  true,"  explained  their  host,  "  but  only 
doing  things  under  my  gardener's  supervision." 

He  is  certainly  different  to  other  men,  Constance 
thought — moreover,  he  is  modest,  no  doubt  about 
that.  Further,  it  struck  her  that  his  remarks  were 
singularly  just. 

There  was  a  short  silence,  and  then,  turning  to 
Constance  and  looking  her  fully  in  the  face,  Mr. 
Brentwood  said  : 

"  I  understand.  Miss  Alletson,  your  brother  has 
explained  that  what  we  are  about  to  undertake  is  of 
serious  import  ?  " 

It  was  the  first  time  their  eyes  had  really  met, 
and  while  he  was  speaking  she  felt  that  she  could 
not  look  away ;  they  were  such  fine  eyes,  and  there 
seemed  to  be  no  end  to  their  deep  brown  depths. 
She  was  conscious  that  a  great  restful  feeling  came 
over  her,  such  as  she  had  never  in  her  life  experienced 

While  she  paused  to  answer,  she  felt  that  she  was 
searching  for  something  in  his  look,  which  was  con- 
cealed, but  which  she  instinctively  knew  was  there. 

"  Yes,  I  understand  that." 

She  replied  almost  mechanically,  her  attention 
being  held  by  the  involuntary  desire  to  discover  what 
it  was  that  lay  hidden  in  the  man. 

"  But  I  think  you  may  rest  assured  that  no  per- 
sonal harm  will  come  to  you." 

Constance  gave  a  short  derisive  laugh  !  She  did 
not  mean  to  do  so,  but  the  position  to  her  just  then 
was  so  diametrically  opposed  to  his  assurance,  that 


she  could  not  help  it.  She  was  beginning  to  feel 
uneasy.  She  wanted  to  avoid  finding  this  strange 
hidden  thing ;  her  whole  being  repelled  it,  and  she 
was  aware  that  her  uneasiness  was  fast  amounting 
to  real  fear  !     With  an  effort  she  replied  : 

"  It  is  very  kind  of  you  to  be  so  thoughtful  about 
me,  but  what  of  yourself  and  my  brother  ?  " 

"  Perhaps  I  can  answer  that,  Constance,"  inter- 
posed the  Vicar,  "  if  Mr.  Brentwood  will  allow  me 
to  speak  for  him,  as  well  as  for  myself  ?  " 

Their  host  looked  at  him  and  nodded  assent, 
and  the  Vicar  continued  : 

"  As  you  already  know,  Mr.  Brentwood  and  I  have 
decided  to  get  to  the  bottom  of  this  matter  if  at  all 
possible.  There  are,  however,  certain  risks,  but  we 
are  prepared  to  accept  these,  while  we  are  both  agreed 
that  you  must  not  run  any  danger." 

As  the  Master  of  Storton  turned  his  eyes  from 
hers,  Constance  gave  a  sigh  of  reUef,  for  she  almost 
immediately  became  her  normal  self  again. 

"  I  don't  know  whether  to  thank  you  for  your 
consideration  or  not,"  she  replied,  a  little  reproach- 
fully. "  When  I  promised  that  I  would  help  you, 
I  was  then,  and  am  now,  fully  prepared  to  take  my 
share  of  the  responsibility.  Moreover,  why  should 
I  not  ? " 

Brentwood  raised  his  eyes  with  fresh  interest. 
This  woman  evidently  had  a  mind  of  her  own. 

"  I  think,"  he  said  gravely,  "  there  is  hardly  any 
need  to  pursue  this  further.  Miss  Alletson,  seeing  that 
you  are  so  willing  to  do  your  share  in  the  work." 

The  well-conceived  reply  pacified  Constance  some- 
what, so  she  answered  : 


"  Very  well,  let  it  rest  at  that.  But  before  we 
begin,  I  wish  to  make  one  stipulation  " — ^here  her 
eyes  challenged  his — "  and  that  is,  that  you  inform 
me  of  all  that  happens." 

"  Mr.  Brentwood  is  quite  wiUing  on  that  point, 
I'm  sure,"  answered  her  brother. 

Their  host  rose,  and  moving  forward  a  large  divan 
chair,  requested  Constance  to  make  herself  as  com- 
fortable as  possible.  This,  with  the  aid  of  one  or 
two  cushions,  she  did,  and  soon  found  herself  reposing 

She  felt  at  ease,  strange  to  say,  in  spite  of  the  un- 
comfortable time  she  had  experienced  when  Mr. 
Brentwood  had  been  looking  at  her,  but  so  far  as 
she  knew  there  was  no  other  disturbing  element. 
In  any  case,  she  had  made  up  her  mind,  and  would 
not  retract  now. 

The  Master  of  Storton  was  talking  to  her  brother 
in  a  low  voice,  and  she  lazily  watched  them.  Casu- 
ally she  compared  the  two  men  and  smiled  at  the 
idea  that  they  should  have  anything  in  common  ; 
they  were  so  entirely  different.  Still,  it  appeared 
that  they  had,  and,  after  aU,  it  was  not  the  strangest 
thing  in  the  world. 

At  last  Brentwood  turned  to  her,  and  taking  out 
his  watch,  said : 

"  I  imderstand  from  your  brother.  Miss  Alletson, 
that  you  have  experienced  the  trance  stage  before, 
and  that  being  so,  I  propose  to  conduct  you  there 
straight  away.  During  the  trance  I  shall  request 
you  to  do  certain  things,  which,  if  successful,  will 
have  important  results.  I  would  therefore  ask  you 
to  please  give  to  me  the  whole  of  your  attention  for 


the  next  few  minutes,  so  that  I  may  the  better  be 
enabled  to  produce  the  trance  stage  as  nearly  perfect 
as  possible." 

Constance  inclined  her  head  in  assent.  One 
thing  she  could  not  help  noticing  was,  that  there 
was  a  marked  difference  in  his  manner,  now  that 
he  was  about  to  proceed  to  business  ;  and  she  was 
conscious  there  and  then  of  having  to  deal  with  a 
very  strong  personality,  if  not  an  extraordinary 

"  Please  just  look  at  me  for  a  minute,"  he  said 
quietly.  That  was  just  what  she  did  not  want. 
Why  should  he  adopt  that  method  ?  She  was 
averse  to  again  looking  into  his  eyes.  So  instead 
of  doing  as  he  asked,  she  looked  at  the  ring  on  her 
right  hand,  which  was  resting  easily  on  the  arm  of 
the  chair,  and  answered  : 

"It  is  not  now  usual,  I  beUeve,  to  induce  the 
sleep  by  the  power  of  the  eyes." 

"  No,"  he  replied,  "  but  while  other  methods  are 
more  popular,  it  is  the  best  and  safest,  if  properly 

Constance  thought  his  tone  a  little  hard,  as 
though  he  resented  her  query.  Still,  she  could  not 
repudiate  what  he  said, so  she  answered,  "  Very  well," 
and  raising  her  blue  eyes  to  his,  looked  steadily 
into  them.  At  first  she  wanted  to  pit  her  own 
strength  of  mind  against  his,  but  as  she  continued 
to  gaze,  once  again  that  delightful  restful  feeling 
came  over  her,  and  she  gave  a  slight  sigh  of  content. 

Gradually  his  eyes  seemed  to  grow  larger  and  yet 
larger,  until  she  could  see  nothing  but  their  dark 
brown  depths,  and  then  it  seemed  that  she  was  in- 


stinctively  warned  that  she  was  searching  for  some- 
thing in  his  eyes — she  did  not  know  what — but 
which,  with  a  feehng  of  terror,  she  knew  she  would 
find,  and  must  find.  What  was  it  that  was  forcing  her 
to  seek  this  unknown  mysterious  something  behind 
the  visible  man  ?  She  was  not  doing  it  voluntarily. 
Then  came  the  reverse  action,  this  unknown,  un- 
desirable thing  was  seeking  her.  She  was  conscious 
of  the  fact,  also  that  she  was  terribly  anxious  to 
escape  it.  Oh  ! — she  must  try  to  avoid  it  at  any 
cost,  she  dare  not  face  it.  What  could  she  do  ? 
Which  way  could  she  fly  ?  Black  despair  seemed 
to  enter  her  breast.  Would  no  one  help  her  ?  she 
thought  piteously ;  was  she  abandoned  in  that  de- 
solate dark  waste,  quite  alone  with  this  shadowy 
horror,  helpless  ? 

Ah ! — ^it  was  there,  it  had  found  her,  it  was 
clutching  her — O  God  1  .  .  .  she  shrieked  the  words 
aloud  to  the  loneliness  around  her,  and  then,  with 
a  deafening  crash  and  a  roar  like  mighty  rivers 
suddenly  loosing  themselves  into  empty  bottomless 
caverns,  the  spell  broke  !  .  .  . 

She  was  floating  lazily,  dreamily,  so  restfully, 
amongst  the  sweetest  scented  flowers  she  had  ever 

Gently  closing  her  eyelids,  Brentwood  turned 
his  head  and  looked  at  the  Vicar,  who  had  been 
watching  with  deep  interest.  One  glance  was 
sufficient  to  tell  him  that  her  brother  was  quite 
unaware  of  the  look  of  horror  that  had  come  into 
his  sister's  eyes  just  before  she  lost  consciousness. 
Besides,   he   could    see   from   the    position  which 


AUetson  had  taken  up — at  right  angles  to  the 
operator  and  the  medium — ^that  it  was  improbable ; 
but  he  had  not  been  quite  sure  where  her  brother 
was  stationed. 

The  Vicar  nodded  his  head  approvingly  and  then 
said  in  a  subdued  voice  : 

"  I  suppose  you  will  let  the  sleep  settle  a  little 
before  you  proceed  to  sub-consciously  awaken 
her  ?  " 

Brentwood  absently  inclined  his  head.  He  was 
thinking  of  that  look  which  appeared  in  Miss 
AUetson's  eyes,  just  before  she  passed  into  the 
trance,  and  was  asking  himself  whether  or  not  he 
should  inform  her  brother  of  it,  there  and  then. 

He  must  have  stood  thus — ^with  the  first  finger 
and  thumb  of  his  right  hand  pursing  his  under  lip 
— ^for  fully  four  minutes,  and  might  have  stood 
longer,  if  his  attention  had  not  been  arrested  by 
Alletson's  voice  suggesting  that  probably  it  would 
now  be  safe  to  arouse  the  medium. 

Drawing  a  deep  breath,  he  quietly  took  up  his 
watch  and  put  it  in  his  pocket ;  then  turning  to  his 
friend  he  said  : 

"  Quite  so,  the  sleep  should  now  be  sufficiently 
deep."  He  then  proceeded  to  arouse  the  sleeper 
after  applying  one  or  two  tests  to  satisfy  himself 
that  the  trance  stage  was  in  evidence. 

He  had  to  call  her  name  three  or  four  times 
before  she  showed  any  signs  of  mental  activity ; 
then,  slightly  puckering  her  smooth  brow,  she 
heaved  a  deep  sigh  and  answered  in  a  slow  voice  : 

"  Yes,  I  am  here  j  why  do  you  call  me  back  ? 
I  am  happy  amongst  the  flowers." 



They  both  watched  her  face  intently,  while  Brent- 
wood proceeded  to  question  her. 

"  Are  you  free  ?  " 

",No !    You  hold  me,  otherwise  I  am — ^let  me  go." 

"  That  I  cannot  do,"  he  answered  softly  but  firmly. 

"  Listen  !  I  want  you  to  go  to  Worlstoke  Vicar- 

The  Vicar  looked  at  him  inquiringly. 

"  I  am  there,"  she  answered  listlessly. 

Brentwood  turned  to  his  friend  and  whispered 
quickly : 

"  On  which  night  did  the  Rev.  Henry  Thornton 
disappear  ?  " 

Alletson  knitted  his  brows  for  a  moment,  then 
replied : 

"  Saturday  evening,  twenty-first  February  last, 
seven  p.m." 

The  Master  of  Storton  thought  rapidly,  then, 
turning  to  the  medium,  said  : 

"  Go  back  to  seven  p.m.,  Saturday,  twenty-first 
February  in  this  year." 

For  a  time  the  medium's  face  looked  troubled, 
as  though  there  were  some  difficulty,  but  eventually 
her  countenance  cleared  and  she  responded  : 

"  Yes,  I  am  there." 

"  Is  the  Rev.  Henry  Thornton  in  the  Vicarage  ?  " 

"  No,"  came  the  prompt  reply. 

"  Go  back  to  six-thirty  p.m." 

"  Yes." 

"  Is  he  there  now  ?  " 

"  Yes,  in  the  study." 

"  What  is  he  doing  ?  " 

"  Writing." 


"  Watch,  and  say  what  he  does." 

A  long  silence  followed,  and  at  last  the  Vicar  made 
as  if  to  speak,  but  his  friend  stopped  him  with  a 
warning  hand.  The  Vicar  was  keenly  excited  ;  he 
could  not  understand  how  Brentwood  had  so  easily 
obtained  the  conditions.  But  that  was  unimport- 
ant compared  with  the  revelations  which  appeared 

He  looked  at  the  operator's  cold,  composed  fea- 
tures with  fresh  interest.  He  had  never  met  a 
personality  hke  this  one,  although  he  had  come  in  con- 
tact with  many  types.  This  man's  intellect  was  far 
above  the  average,  and  his  will  power  was  abnormal. 

Evilly  disposed,  such  a  character  would  be  a  real 
danger  to  humanity.  What  a  blessing  his  tendencies 
were  for  good  !  He  looked  at  Brentwood  again,  just 
to  satisfy  himself  that  he  had  made  no  mistake,  when 
he  had,  not  long  ago,  decided  that  the  Master  of 
Storton  was  an  upright  man  ;  and  his  scrutiny  con- 
firmed that  opinion.  The  features  were  refined,  and 
the  firm  mouth  and  delicate  nostrils  showed  high  taste 
and  strong  control  over  the  physical  propensities. 

His  attention  was  recalled  by  his  sister's  voice 
speaking  slowly  : 

"  He  has  finished  writing — ^he  rises  and  goes  into 
the  hall — ^he  puts  on  his  hat — ^he  is  now  speaking  to 
his  housekeeper.  Now  he  goes  out  of  the  front  door 
— ^he  is  standing  by  the  gate  hesitating — ^he  turns 
and  walks  down  the  road — ^he  is  now  approaching  a 
ruined  building " 

The  Vicar  gave  a  short  gasp  as  he  thought  of  the 

" — ^he  looks  at  it  hesitatingly — ^now  he  walks  to- 


wards  it — ^he  stops  again — and  there  is  a  strange 
look  on  his  face — ^now  he  goes  on  again — ^he  has 
reached  the  wall  ..." 

The  voice  stopped  abruptly,  and  a  troubled  look 
passed  over  the  sleeper's  face.  The  two  men  waited 
eagerly,  the  one  trembling  with  excitement,  the  other 
with  set  mouth  and  alert  eyes.  At  last  in  a  pained 
voice  she  continued  : 

"  I  cannot  go  any  further,  something  prevents 
me  ;  there  is  something  guarding  the  wall — it  is  all 
round  it." 

Then  she  added  in  quick  staccato  tones  : 

"  I  do  not  want  to  go.   No  !  no  1  let  me  return  ! !  " 

Her  voice  swelled  louder,  and  the  Vicar  half  rose 
out  of  his  chair  in  response  to  the  appeal,  but  his 
host  quietly  and  firmly  put  his  hand  on  his  shoulder, 
and  at  the  same  time  said  in  a  clear  voice  : 

"  Come  back  to  the  present.  Do  not  be  afraid, 
no  harm  can  come  to  you." 

Then  he  began  to  speak  slowly  and  firmly  in  a 
strange  tongue.  This  he  continued  to  do  for  fully 
half  a  minute,  and  gradually  the  troubled  look  dis- 
appeared from  the  medium's  countenance  and  once 
more  she  breathed  easily  and  regularly. 

The  operator  studied  her  face  carefully  before  he 
again  spoke,  and  then,  being  apparently  satisfied 
that  things  were  in  order,  he  resumed  : 

"  Now  go  into  the  ruins." 

"  I  am  there,"  she  responded  listlessly. 

"  Can  you  see  the  Rev.  Henry  Thornton  ?  " 

"  No." 

"  Tell  me  what  you  see." 

After  a  pause  she  replied  : 


"  Crumbling  walls  ;  broken  flagstones  ;  ivy  ;  old 
rubbish  heaps  covered  with  weeds  .  .  .  nothing 
but  ruins." 

"  Have  you  been  all  over  the  priory  ?  " 

"  Yes." 

"  Are  there  not  any  vaults  or  chambers  under- 
ground ?  " 

"  Yes  " — ^after  hesitation. 

"  Where  ?  " 

"  I  am  in  a  large  vault  now,  under  the  refectory." 

"  Describe  it." 

"  It  is  quite  empty,  except  for  dust  and  rubbish." 

"  Can  you  find  the  entrance  ?  " 

"  Yes,  there  are  some  steps  leading  up  to  a  trap- 
door in  the  floor  of  the  refectory,  but  it  is  covered  by 
a  large  flagstone." 

"  Is  there  no  other  underground  chamber  ?  " 

"  I  think  so  .  .  .  'er — I'm  in  a  passage." 

"  Where  ?  " 

"  About  underneath  the  chapel." 

"  Can  you  find  the  entrance  ?  " 

There  was  a  long  pause,  during  which  the  medium 
looked  much  perplexed.  At  last  the  words 
came  : 

"  I  have  come  to  a  wall,  about  twenty  paces  from 
where  I  started,  but  I  cannot  pass  it." 

"  Is  there  anything  the  other  side  of  it  ?  " 

"  Yes." 

"  What  do  you  think  it  is  ?  " 

"  I  don't  know." 

"  Why  cannot  you  pass  the  wall  ?  " 

"  Some  force  prevents  me." 

"  Follow  the  passage  the  other  way." 


"  Yes,  it  is  long,  very  long  ...  Oh  !  Let  me  get 
out  of  this  dreadful  place,  there  is  something  evil 
and  weird  about  it.  I  feel  the  presence  of  death  in 
some  form  all  around.  But  that  I  am  guarded  by 
your  power,  I  should  be  lost." 

She  spoke  in  a  voice  agitated  with  fear,  and 
lifted  her  hands  appealingly.  Brentwood  took  hold 
of  them  in  his  own,  and  spoke  in  a  low  firm 
voice  : 

"  Peace,  forget,  and  awake  in  ten  minutes." 

He  released  her  hands,  and  with  a  long  drawn-out 
sigh  her  head  fell  back,  and  to  all  appearances  she 
was  just  peacefully  asleep. 

When  Constance  awoke,  it  was  to  find  the  two 
men  looking  steadily  at  her.  As  soon  as  she  opened 
her  eyes,  the  Master  of  Storton  immediately  arose, 
and  going  to  a  chiffonier  poured  into  a  glass  out  of 
a  decanter  a  liquid  which  looked  like  water,  except- 
ing that  it  effervesced  at  intervals,  as  it  came  into 
contact  with  the  air. 

"  Drink  this,"  he  said  gently.  His  face  was 
grave,  but  his  eyes  smiled  kindly,  and  she  was  just 
thinking  how  nice  he  was,  when  that  instinctive 
dislike  for  him,  which  she  had  before  experienced, 
entered  her  mind.  She  took  the  proffered  glass 
hesitatingly,  and  he  noticed  it. 

"  Drink  it  straight  away.  Miss  Alletson,  it  will 
stimulate  you  without  any  after  ill-effects." 

She  drank  it  slowly,  and  felt  a  faint  tingling 
sensation,  as  though  the  heart's  action  had  been 
slightly  increased.  It  refreshed  her,  however,  and 
feeling  better,  she  said  : 

"  Well !  have  you  been  successful  ?  " 


The  Master  of  Storton  avoided  her  eyes  as  he 
replied : 

"  I  think  we  have  learned  of  something  which 
may  lead  to  success,  Miss  Alletson." 

He  then  briefly  told  her  all  that  had  happened 
during  the  experiment,  while  she  listened  eagerly. 

"  There  is  one  thing  certain,"  exclaimed  the 
Vicar,  when  Brentwood  had  finished.  "  We  shall 
have  to  closely  inspect  the  ruins  of  the  old 

"  Yes,"  repUed  the  Master  of  Storton,  "  and  the 
sooner  we  do  it,  the  better." 

They  there  and  then  arranged  that  the  Vicar 
should  let  Brentwood  know  by  messenger,  if  he 
could  manage  to  go  in  the  morning.  All  being 
well,  they  would  meet  at  the  priory  about  10  a.m. 

"  Of  course  you  will  go  back  in  my  car,"  said  their 
host.    "  I've  given  instructions  for  it  to  be  ready." 

They  thanked  him  for  his  thoughtfulness  and  rose 
to  depart. 

"  I  must  say  before  you  go,"  remarked  Brent- 
wood as  they  passed  into  the  hall,  "  that  you  are 
an  excellent  medium.  Miss  Alletson  ;  much  better, 
in  fact,  than  many  professional  ones  I  have  met." 

To  her  own  vexation,  Constance  blushed  a  little  at 
the  compliment ;  and  she  repHed  rather  hurriedly  : 

"  Really  I'm  very  glad  I  have  proved  satis- 
factory, but  perhaps  it  was  more  due  to  the  skill 
of  the  operator  that  I  proved  so." 

The  Master  of  Storton  actually  frowned  as  he 
replied  : 

"  You  flatter  me  mistakenly.  Miss  Alletson.  No 
matter  how  good  an  operator  may  be,  without  a 


first-class  medium  no  experiments  would  be  of  much 
use.  It  would  simply  be  like  a  musician  trying  to 
get  harmony  out  of  an  instrument  that  was  out  of 

Before  they  got  into  the  brougham,  Brentwood 
did  what  appeared  to  be  a  strange  thing.  He 
introduced  his  visitors  to  Agar  Halfi,  his  chauffeur. 
If  either  of  them  thought  it  curious,  neither  of  them, 
of  course,  showed  it.  As  to  Agar  Halfi,  he — ^not 
at  all  embarrassed — murmured  his  pleasure  at  the 
honour  conferred  upon  him.  He  at  least  did  not 
think  it  curious. 

When  they  arrived  at  the  Vicarage,  the  Hindoo 
jumped  down  to  hold  open  the  door.  As  they 
alighted,  Constance  turned  to  him  with  a  smile 
and  thanked  him  for  bringing  them  home. 

Agar  Halfi's  face  lighted  up,  and  bowing  low, 
he  Said  in  his  dignified  way  : 

"  I  am  always  pleased  to  serve  the  friends  of  my 
beloved  master." 

Which  remark  set  Constance  wondering  what  it 
was  that  made  her  dislike  the  Master  of  Storton, 
when  everybody  else  (except  Arthur  Shepperton) 
had  such  a  good  opinion  of  him. 

Agar  Halfi  watched  them  with  his  dark  eyes, 
until  they  disappeared  through  the  doorway.  Then 
he  slowly  turned  round  and  studied  the  near  front 
wheel  of  the  car.  Eventually  he  gave  voice  to  an 
emphatic  "  umph,"  and  shaking  his  head  doubt- 
fully, mounted  the  car,  muttering  in  his  own  lan- 
guage, and  drove  away. 


A  lady's  glove 

That  evening  Constance  was  alone,  Philip  having 
gone  to  visit  a  parishioner  who  was  sick.  It  was 
chilly,  and  she  drew  her  chair  close  to  the  fire. 
A  book  lay  on  her  knee,  but  she  was  not  reading, 
her  mind  being  engrossed  with  the  events  of  the 

On  the  way  home  from  the  Manor,  Phihp  had 
related  to  her  all  that  had  happened,  and  it  was 
evident  from  his  remarks  that  he  had  no  knowledge 
of  what  transpired  just  before  she  lost  conscious- 
ness. She  had  almost  there  and  then  told  him, 
but  checked  the  impulse,  thinking  it  better  perhaps 
to  wait  a  little. 

It  was  satisfying  to  know  that  some  progress  had 
been  made,  and  that  she  had  been  instrumental 
in  it ;  but  the  curious  incident  which  had  twice 
occurred  rather  damped  her  spirits.  The  effect  of 
it — ^besides  confirming  her  instinctive  dislike  for 
the  Master  of  Storton — ^was  to  arouse  a  suspicion 
in  her  mind  that  he  was  a  dangerous  man  ! 

She  would  very  much  like  to  know  what  had 
caused  that  dreadful  feeling  of  horror — ^she  shud- 
dered as  she  remembered  it — but  for  that,  the 
progress  that  had  been  made  would  have  given  her 
every  cause  for  satisfaction. 

What  particularly  troubled  her  was,  that  while 


naturally  she  did  not  want  to  suffer  another  such 
experience,  she  was  aware  of  a  distinct  desire 
within  her  to  again  look  into  his  eyes  1  It  was  not 
pleasant  to  be  conscious  of  that  fact  under  the 
circumstances ;  it  made  her  feel  just  a  little  bit 
helpless ;  but  having  promised  to  assist  all  she 
could,  she  did  not  want  to  go  back  on  her  word 
without  sufficient  cause,  yet  just  then  she  decidedly 
felt  that  she  would  rather  not  go  to  the  Manor 

Had  she  been  a  man,  she  would  probably  have 
come  to  the  conclusion  that  it  was  a  mere  coinci- 
dence, and  have  dismissed  the  matter  from  her  mind, 
on  the  ground  that  there  was  not  any  reasonable 
basis  upon  which  to  assume  anything,  but  being  a 
woman,  she  did  not  think  that  way.  She  instinc- 
tively disliked  the  man,  and  that  was  sufficient  iov 
her  to  arrive  at  the  conclusion  that  there  was 
something  wrong  with  him. 

Some  men  would  laugh  at  such  a  decision,  put- 
ting it  down  to  woman's  illogical  way  of  reasoning  ; 
but  it  is  as  well  to  remember  that  the  feminine  mind 
intuitively  arrives  at  correct  solutions  of  things  far 
more  quickly  than  the  masculine  mind  does  by  the 
slow  and  not  always  sound  process  of  reasoning. 

In  the  fading  light  Constance  idly  watched  the 
shadows  from  the  fire  silently  playing  on  the  walls 
and  ceiling.  Outside  all  seemed  peaceful  and  at 
rest,  in  ironic  contrast  to  her  mind.  Something 
she  would  have  to  decide  upon  soon  ;  such  a  state 
of  indecision  she  well  knew  could  not  last  for  long. 
But  it  was  not  an  easy  task. 

Her  meditations  were  interrupted  by  a  ring  of 

A   LADY'S   GLOVE  107 

the  front-door  bell,  and  shortly  afterwards  the  maid 
announced  that  Mr,  Shepperton  had  called  to  see 
Mr.  Alletson. 

"  Of  course,  Martha,  you  told  him  the  master  was 
out  ?  " 

"  Yes,  miss,"  she  repUed.  "  So  he  said  he  would 
be  glad  if  he  could  see  you  for  a  few  minutes." 

Constance  frowned  ;  she  did  not  particularly  want 
to  see  anyone  just  then  ;  but  perhaps  he  had  called 
to  see  her  brother  about  some  Church  work,  and 
in  that  case  she  felt  it  her  duty  to  see  him.  So 
rising,  she  lighted  the  gas  and  told  Martha  to  show 
Mr.  Shepperton  in. 

As  soon  as  he  entered  the  room,  Constance 
noticed  that  he  was  unnerved.  His  eyes  shone 
brightly  and  his  face  was  paler  than  usual,  though 
the  colour  kept  coming  and  going  in  his  cheeks. 

She  looked  at  him  a  little  startled,  not  quite 
knowing  what  to  do  ;  at  last  he  exclaimed  : 

"  I've  found  a  clue  !  "  and  then  dropped  into  a 
chair,  breathing  irregularly. 

She  looked  at  him  in  mute  surprise  for  a  moment, 
then  it  suddenly  occurred  to  her  that  he  looked 
ill,  and  she  said  : 

"  Can  I  get  you  anything,  Mr.  Shepperton  ?  " 

He  nodded,  then  answered  gratefully  : 

"  Thanks,  I  should  like  a  glass  of  water." 

When  she  left  the  room,  he  rose  and  com- 
menced to  walk  quickly  backwards  and  forwards. 
He  gazed  restlessly  around  him  and  said  half  aloud  : 
"  By  God  !  if  it  is  he,  I'll  " — but  he  did  not  finish 
the  sentence,  for  at  that  moment  Constance  re- 
entered the  room. 


He  drank  some  of  the  water  eagerly,  and  put  down 
the  glass  with  a  sigh  of  relief. 

She  looked  at  him  sympathetically.  Her  dis- 
position was  a  kind  one,  and  she  was  very  sorry 
for  him  in  his  trouble.  It  is  hard  to  lose  one  who 
is  dear  to  you,  and  she  had  extended  her  sympathy 
to  Mr.  Shepperton  beyond  the  ordinary,  and  she 
felt  that  he  had  been  grateful  to  her. 

When  he  had  recovered  himself  somewhat, 
Arthur  Shepperton  put  his  hand  inside  his  coat, 
and  without  a  word,  drew  forth  a  kid  glove,  which 
he  carefully  placed  on  the  table.  For  a  short  time 
he  looked  at  it  despairingly,  then  said  : 

"  Do  you  know  to  whom  that  belongs  ?  " 

Constance  looked  at  him  questioningly. 

"  Look  inside  it,"  he  continued. 

Constance  silently  picked  it  up  and  read  on  the 
lining  the  initials  "  E.  H." 

She  trembled  a  httle,  in  spite  of  her  determination 
to  keep  cool. 

"And  where  did  you  find  it  ?  "  she  half  whis- 

He  expected  her  question,  for  he  answered  im- 
mediately : 

"  In  the  priory  ruins  !  " 

Constance's  heart  jumped ;  she  at  once  thought 
of  Philip's  adventure. 

Shepperton  noticed  her  start,  and  looked  at  her 

During  the  pause  the  door  opened  and  Philip 
entered.  Neither  heard  him,  they  were  so  ab- 
sorbed, each  in  their  own  thoughts. 

The  Vicar  looked  at  them  wonderingly,  Shep- 

A   LADY'S   GLOVE  109 

perton  leaning  forward  in  his  chair,  staring  at 
Constance,  while  she  stood  gazing  at  him,  with 
one  hand  on  the  table,  supporting  her  body,  the 
other  holding  up  the  glove. 

"  What  is  the  matter  ?  "  he  said  quietly. 

They  both  turned  suddenly,  and  Constance  ex- 
claimed : 

"  Oh  !  I'm  so  glad  you  have  come.  Mr.  Shep- 
perton  has  found  Miss  Hobson's  glove  in  the 

The  Vicar  uttered  an  exclamation,  and  taking 
the  glove  from  his  sister  looked  at  it  intently ; 
then  turning  to  Shepperton,  he  asked  : 

"  Of  course,  there  can  be  no  doubt  about  it  ?  " 

The  other  man  laughed  mirthlessly,  and  an- 
swered : 

"  Not  a  shadow  of  a  doubt,  I  could  swear  to  it." 

"  Where  exactly  was  it  ?  "  asked  AUetson. 

"  I  went  for  a  walk  this  afternoon,  and  coming 
back  I  wandered  into  the  ruins.  I  don't  know 
them  very  well,  so  I  thought  I  would  have  a  look 
round.  Now  you  know  the  part  which  used  to  be 
the  chapel  ?  " 

"  — m — yes,"  answered  the  Vicar. 

"  Well,  up  at  the  top  end,  where  the  altar  would 
have  been,  the  wall  is  crumbhng  away  in  parts, 
and  I  had  just  stepped  across  one  of  these  places, 
when  my  foot  dislodged  one  of  the  loose  stones. 
This  fell  on  the  ground  outside  the  wall  and 
knocked  away  another  stone,  which  had  been  lying 
there  goodness  knows  how  long.  Naturally  I 
looked  to  see  what  had  happened,  and  there,  where 
the  stone  had  been  lying,  I  found  the  glove." 


Alletson  drummed  his  fingers  on  the  table,  while 
he  gazed  into  the  fire.    Then  he  said  : 

"  What  do  you  intend  to  do  ?  " 

"Well,  I  shall  of  course  inform  the  police," 
he  replied,  then  added,  "  I  came  here  first 
though,  thinking  you  would  like  to  know  at 

"  I'm  glad  you  did,"  answered  the  Vicar. 

Shepperton  looked  at  him  wonderingly. 

"  Because,"  he  continued,  "  I  don't  think  I 
should  go  to  the  police." 

"  Not  go  to  the  police  I  "  he  echoed. 

"  At  any  rate,  for  the  present,"  said  Alletson. 
"  Let  me  explain.  There  is,  I  am  sure,  more  in 
this  case  than  at  first  appears.  Certain  things 
which  have  happened  led  me  to  consult  Mr.  Brent- 
wood. He  is  now  investigating  the  matter,  and  I 
have  great  hopes  that  he  will  be  able  to  solve  the 

"  Mr.  Brentwood,"  ejaculated  Shepperton,  with  a 
half -sneer.    "  What's  he  got  to  do  with  it  ?  " 

A  pained  look  came  into  the  Vicar's  face ;  the 
man's  tone  was  so  bitter.  Constance  noticed  that 
her  brother  was  hurt,  and  turning  to  Shepperton, 
she  said  coldly : 

"  Mr.  Brentwood  has  been  good  enough  to  pro- 
mise to  give  his  time  to  a  subject  which  hardly 
concerns  him,  and  I  think,  Mr.  Shepperton,  we 
really  ought  to  be  grateful  for  his  help." 

Her  tone  hurt  him — ^he  was  siuprised  to  find — 
more  than  he  thought  it  could  have  done,  and  he 
remembered  it  afterwards  ;  but  at  the  time  he  was 

A   LADY'S   GLOVE  iii 

"  I  would  rather  he  had  nothing  to  do  with  it," 
he  said  stubbornly. 

They  both  looked  at  him  in  surprise,  then  the 
Vicar  said  sternly : 

"  Surely,  Mr.  Shepperton,  that  is  unreasonable. 
If  Mr.  Brentwood  has  offered  his  help  when  asked 
to  give  it,  why  should  you  want  to  refuse  ?  " 

The  other  man  looked  sullenly  at  him  before  he 
answered,  then  said  irritably  : 

"  To  tell  the  truth,  I  don't  like  the  gentleman, 
and  I  don't  want  any  help  or  favours  at  his  hands." 

A  cloud  began  to  gather  on  the  Vicar's  face,  but 
almost  immediately  his  expression  changed  and  he 
said  kindly : 

"  Mr.  Shepperton,  you  are  upset,  or  I'm  sure 
you  would  not  have  spoken  thus.  Let  me  assure 
you  that  in  my  opinion,  if  Mr.  Brentwood  cannot 
assist  us  in  this  extraordinary  case,  the  police 
certainly  cannot." 

Shepperton  was  surprised  into  silence,  and  for  a 
time  did  not  speak.  Then  he  asked  in  a  more 
subdued  manner  : 

"  Do  you  really  think  that  ?  How  can  he  help 
in  any  particular  way  ?  Is  he  an  amateur  detective  ? 
Really  I  don't  understand." 

Alletson  smiled  slightly. 

"  No,"  he  replied, "  but  " — ^he  hesitated  and  looked 
at  Constance,  then  said  to  her  : 

"  Perhaps  we  had  better  tell  Mr.  Shepperton  every- 
thing ?  " 

Constance  nodded  —  there  seemed  no  other 
way.  So  quietly  and  carefully  he  related  all 
that  had  happened,  while  the  other  man  listened 


with   open   eyes   and   occasional   interruptions   of 

"  Now,  Mr.  Shepperton,  I  don't  think  you  will 
think  it  advisable  to  go  to  the  police  just  yet." 

Shepperton  rose  and  held  out  his  hand. 

"  Please  forgive  me  if  I  spoke  hastily  just  now, 
Mr.  AUetson,"  he  said ;  "I'm  grateful  for  what 
you  have  done,  and  I'm  quite  wilHng  to  let  matters 
take  their  course  for  tl.e  present.  You  may  depend 
upon  me,  of  course,  to  assist  in  any  way  possible." 

The  Vicar  was  pleasantly  surprised  at  his  frank- 
ness and  grasped  his  hand  heartily.  But  Constance 
was  not  so  sure  that  he  was  sincere,  the  change  was 
so  sudden.    However,  she  did  not  say  anything. 

-'  Perhaps  we  had  better  go  and  make  a  careful 
search  as  soon  as  possible  ?  "  said  Shepperton. 

"  Yes,"  replied  the  Vicar,  "  it  would  be  just  as 
well.  I  could  manage  to-morrow  morning,  if  not 
too  early.    How  would  ten  o'clock  suit  you  ?  " 

"  Oh,  any  time  will  suit  me,"  replied  Shepperton. 
Then,  turning  to  Constance,  he  added  :  "I  hope 
you  will  be  coming  too.  Miss  AUetson  ?  " 

She  hesitated  a  moment,  then  replied  slowly  : 

"  Yes,  I  think  I  will  come,  if  I  shall  not  be  in  the 

"  No  question  about  that,"  he  answered  em- 

"  Very  well,"  said  AUetson  ;  "I  will  send  a  note 
round  to  the  Manor,  asking  Mr.  Brentwood  to  meet 
us  there.     I  know  he  will  come." 

"  That  will  be  excellent,"  repUed  Shepperton 
brightly.  "  And  now  I  think  I  had  better  be  going. 
Good  night ! " 

A   LADY'S   GLOVE  113 

As  he  hurried  along  the  road,  Arthur  Shepperton's 
mind  was  busy  sorting  things  out.  Being  a  very 
practical  young  man,  he  was  half  inclined  to  laugh 
at  the  Vicar's  statements.  He  did  not  believe  in 
that  sort  of  thing,  and  if  certain  people  liked  to  go 
wandering  after  will-o'-the-wisps,  that  was  not  his 
business.  On  the  other  hand,  he  would  have  a  good 
opportunity  to  watch  Brentwood.  A  man  who 
had  in  his  possession  photographs  like  the  one  he 
had  found  in  the  priory  could  not  be  up  to  much 
good.  He  still  resented  his  being  introduced  into 
the  matter,  he  so  disliked  the  man,  and  the  fact  of 
finding  Elsie's  glove  in  the  priory  ruins  increased 
his  desire  to  watch  Brentwood.  He  could  not  exactly 
say  why,  but  it  seemed  somehow  to  connect  him 
with  the  case. 

He  wondered  why  AUetson  had  not  confided  in 
him  in  the  first  place  ;  it  hurt  his  pride,  and  he  took 
it  as  a  snub.  Surely  he  should  have  been  the  first 
one  to  have  known.  However,  he  would  dismiss 
the  matter  for  the  present,  and  see  what  the  morn- 
ing brought  forth. 

Just  before  he  arrived  at  his  apartments,  he 
suddenly  remembered  that  Constance  Alletson's 
retort  had  hurt  him,  more  than  he  expected,  and 
it  then  occurred  to  him  that  he  liked  her.  Yes, 
he  was  pretty  sure  about  that.  He  recollected  that 
she  had  been  particularly  nice  to  him  since  Elsie's 
disappearance.  He  wondered,  in  a  vague  sort  of 
way,  whether  she  liked  him,  and  was  still  musing 
on  the  point  when  he  reached  home. 




Meanwhile  the  Master  of  Storton,  after  the  de- 
parture of  his  visitors  in  the  afternoon,  went  up 
into  his  study,  and  stood  with  his  hands  in  his  coat 
pockets,  looking  out  of  the  west  window  for  quite 
a  long  time. 

To  see  him  standing  there,  one  would  have  been 
inclined  to  think  that  he  was  idly  viewing  the  land- 
scape stretched  out  before  him  •  but  as  a  fact  he 
was  thinking  about  the  identical  thing  which  occu- 
pied Constance's  mind  later  on  in  the  evening, 
though  from  a  very  different  standpoint. 

His  disposition  toward  the  opposite  sex  was  in- 
different, if  not  cold  ;  but,  all  the  same,  it  was  not 
particularly  pleasant  to  become  suddenly  aware 
that  something  about  him  should  cause  a  look  of 
horror — and  no  doubt  the  feeling  with  the  look — 
to  come  over  one  of  them,  the  first  time  he  had 
practically  had  anything  to  do  with  her.  He  could 
not  sum  it  up. 

He  knew  that  animals  were  susceptible  to  the 
power  of  his  eyes — or  rather  the  hypnotic  force  be- 
hind them — but  that  could  not  explain  the  pheno- 
menon. No  animal  or  human  being  he  had  used  the 
power  upon  had,  he  was  quite  sure,  shown  horror, 
fear,  disgust ;  all  of  which  symptoms  Miss  AUetson 
plainly  exhibited  before  she  passed  into  the  sleep. 

It  might  possibly  have  been  nervousness  on  her 



part,  through  the  strangeness  of  the  circumstances 
— he  understood  that  she  had  never  experimented 
excepting  with  her  brother — but,  against  that,  he 
had  not  noticed  any  abnormal  state,  or  he  would 
not  have  proceeded  with  the  experiment ;  indeed 
she  seemed  to  be  quite  cool  and  collected  ;  and,  as 
far  as  he  could  judge,  she  was  of  strong  character, 
above  the  average. 

No,  it  was  not  that,  but  then,  the  thing  was  a — 
he  stopped  abruptly  as  he  thought  of  the  word 
"  mystery,"  and  bit  his  lip  in  perplexity ;  it  had 
such  a  resemblance  to  superstition,  and  all  his  Hfe, 
while  he  had  been  instinctively  drawn  toward  such 
things — so-called  mysteries  or  superstitions — ^he  had 
really  only  concerned  himself  with  such  matters  to 
analyse  and  expose  them. 

And  yet,  what  other  word  could  he  use  for  that 
which  is  not  understood  ?  Another  thing,  why 
should  he  let  it  bother  him  ?  He  could  let  the  inci- 
dent drop,  and  it  would  be  done  with.  Yes,  that 
might  be  all  right  for  some  people,  but  to  him  it  was 
not  possible;  his  habit  of  research  would  not  let 
him  do  it. 

Again,  there  was  only  one  so-called  mystery  he 
had  tackled,  of  which  he  had  not  been  able  to  get 
to  the  bottom,  so  surely  he  should  be  able  to  over- 
come this  one  ? 

He  felt  that  he  would  very  much  like  to  know 
Miss  Alletson's  version  of  it,  but  he  hardly  felt 
justified — at  present — ^in  approaching  her.  Still, 
there  was  another  way  to  get  at  the  thing;  he 
would  experiment  on  someone  else,  and  see  if  the 
same  phenomenon  exhibited  itself. 


Though  a  man  of  deep  thought,  he  was  practical 
and  of  quick  action,  so  he  straight  away  put  on  his 
hat  and  walked  across  to  Agar  Halfi's  lodge. 

As  he  approached  the  door,  he  was  greeted  with 
a  growl  of  pleasure  from  his  huge  bull-mastiff,  which 
came  leaping  up  at  him,  and  nearly  knocked  him 
down  in  its  dehght. 

"  Down,  Hector  !  Down  !  "  he  exclaimed,  as 
he  patted  the  dog's  head,    "  Where  is  Agar  Halfi  ?  " 

The  animal  ran  to  the  door,  sniffed  at  it,  and  came 
back,  wagging  his  tail,  as  much  as  to  say  that  the 
door  was  shut. 

"  Not  in  ?  "  queried  Brentwood ;  "  well,  I'll  wait. 
Come  along  !  " 

He  walked  into  the  living  room,  and  sat  down  on 
the  table,  swinging  his  legs.  Agar  Halfi,  he  knew, 
could  not  be  long,  as  it  was  only  five  minutes'  run 
to  the  Vicarage. 

He  looked  casually  round  the  room,  and  started 
to  whistle,  when  a  thought  flashed  across  his  mind 
which  caused  him  to  stop  abruptly. 

"  Why  not  try  the  experiment  on  the  dog  ?  " 

Calling  the  animal  to  him,  he  took  its  great  head 
between  his  hands,  and  looked  steadily  into  its  eyes. 
Hector  wriggled,  and  made  as  if  to  get  away,  but 
his  master  silenced  him  with  his  voice,  and  the  dog 
obediently  returned  his  look  with  its  big  honest 

For  fully  half  a  minute  he  concentrated  the  power 
of  his  mind  on  the  animal,  and  then,  with  the  second 
contraction  of  the  pupils,  Brentwood  began  to  be 
satisfied  that  the  experiment — as  he  expected  it 
would  do — ^had  passed  off  satisfactorily.    All  at 


once  the  dog,  who  had  almost  passed  into  the  sleep, 
whimpered,  and,  breaking  away  from  his  grasp, 
backed  away  from  his  master  whining  with 

The  animal's  action  was  so  sudden  and  so  strange, 
that  the  man  momentarily  let  go  the  mental  hold  he 
had  of  it.  In  that  instant  the  dog's  eyes  flamed, 
and,  with  a  deep,  savage  bay,  he  made  as  if  to 
spring.  Recovering  himself  immediately,  Brent- 
wood shouted  in  sharp  tones  : 

"  Lie  down  !  " 

His  master's  voice  of  command  had  the  desired 
efiect.  The  dog — ^habitually  used  to  obeying  it — 
lay  down,  though  apparently  ill  at  ease,  giving  vent 
to  occasional  suppressed  growls. 

The  Master  of  Storton  took  a  long  breath,  and, 
pulling  out  his  pocket-handkerchief,  wiped  small 
drops  of  perspiration  from  his  forehead.  He  was 
keenly  awake  to  the  fact  that  he  had  had  a  narrow 
escape  of  his  life.  No  man  unarmed  could  stand 
against  the  attack  of  a  dog  like  Hector. 

However,  it  was  not  the  first  time  he  had  faced 
death  and  probably  it  would  not  be  the  last. 
But  the  fact  of  the  dog  turning  on  him  set  him 
"  furiously  to  think."  It  looked  as  if  the  animal 
had  been  affected  in  the  same  way  as  Miss  Alletson. 
If  that  were  so,  he  wondered  what  sort  of  a  nerve 
Miss  Alletson  had,  because  it  would  have  to  be 
something  extraordinary  to  make  Hector  attack  his 

His  head  sank  down  on  his  chest  as  he  tried  to 
unravel  it.  The  animal  without  doubt  showed  fear 
and  horror,  whilst  under  the  spell  of  his  eyes.    He 

ii8         AGAR   HALFl   THE  MYSTIC 

also  noticed  that  the  thing  happened  just  about  the 
time  when  the  sleep  was  in  evidence. 

He  was  still  musing  over  it  when  Agar  Halfi  entered 
the  room.  On  seeing  Brentwood  sitting  there,  the 
Hindoo  waited  for  him  to  speak.  This  for  a  time 
he  did  not  do,  but  instead  looked  absently  at  him,  as 
though  debating  in  his  mind  whether  or  not  he  would 
say  anything  at  all.    At  last  he  broke  the  silence. 

"  Agar  Halfi,  I've  a  problem  I  want  to  discuss  with 

Without  a  word  the  man  crossed  the  room,  and, 
squatting  on  the  hearthrug — Eastern  fashion — ^began 
to  stare  at  the  fire. 

Brentwood  watched  him  and  smiled.  It  was  one 
of  the  Hindoo's  peculiarities  that  he  never  spoke 
unless  it  was  absolutely  necessary,  and  what  he  had 
done  was  simply  his  way  of  stating  that  he  was  ready 
to  listen,  and  all  attention. 

"  I  don't  think  there  is  much  known  about 
hjrpnotism  with  which  I  am  not  acquainted  ?  " 

The  other  man  nodded. 

"  On  the  other  hand,"  continued  the  speaker, 
"  as  far  as  it  is  possible  I  know  that  you  are  a  master 
of  the  science,  as  you  are  of  most  things  occult,  and 
I  am  going  to  lay  before  you  a  phenomenon  which  I 
have  to-day  discovered.  But  before  I  do  so,  I  want 
you  to  test  my  hypnotic  influence." 

"  Why  waste  time.  Sahib  ?  Your  powers  in  that 
direction  need  no  testing." 

"  I  have  good  reason  for  it.  Agar  Halfi.  It  will 
make  all  the  difference  to  what  I  have  to  lay  before 

"  Then  we  will  test  it,"  replied  the  man  laconically. 


"  What  I  want  you  to  note  is,  what  you  experience 
while  I  am  using  the  power,  before  you  lose  con- 

Agar  Halfi  made  no  reply,  but  getting  up  from 
the  floor,  sat  in  a  chair  and  got  ready  for  the 

To  Brentwood's  surprise,  everything  went  off 
without  the  slightest  hitch.  No  disturbing  element 
at  all  manifested  itself.  The  Master  of  Storton 
whistled  softly  under  his  breath  ;  this  complicated 

He  awoke  the  Hindoo  almost  immediately,  who 
at  once  resumed  his  seat  on  the  hearthrug  and 
gazed  calmly  into  the  fire. 

"So  you  experienced  nothing  out  of  the  common? " 

"  Nothing,  Sahib,"  was  the  reply. 

The  Master  of  Storton  looked  vacantly  at  the 
ceiHng,  and  then,  without  "  beating  about  the 
bush,"  related  what  had  occurred  during  the  after- 
noon's experiment,  and  what  happened  later  on  with 
the  dog. 

"  Now,  my  friend,  what  do  you  think  of  it  ?  " 

The  Hindoo  did  not  reply,  but  instead  rose  from 
the  floor,  and  going  over  to  the  dog,  swiftly  put 
him  into  the  sleep,  without  the  slightest  trouble. 
Brentwood  watched  while  he  did  it,  with  interested 
eyes  ;  not  the  slightest  action  escaped  him,  and  he 
noticed  that  there  was  not  any  sign  of  trouble  at  all 
with  the  animal. 

When  he  had  finished.  Agar  Halfi  resumed  his  seat 
and  studied  the  fire  with  half-closed  eyes.  At  last 
he  remarked : 

"  When  did  the  Sahib  last  use  the  power  ?  " 

120         AGAR   HALFI   THE   MYSTIC 

"  Really,  I  forget,  but  I  think  it  was  well  over  six 
months  ago." 

"  1  once  saw  a  man  who  was  possessed  with  a  devil 
shrink  with  the  fear  of  death  when  I  cast  out  the  evil 

"  What  do  you  think  caused  the  fear  ?  " 

"  Ah,  Sahib,  who  knows  ?  Possibly  the  unfortu- 
nate one,  when  on  the  borderland  above  the  world, 
caught  sight  of  his  tormentor  before  he  flew  away. 
Possibly  the  poor  man  saw  its  reflection  in  my  eyes  ? 
But  still,  who  knows  ?  " 

Brentwood  laughed  Ughtly  as  he  replied  : 

"  I  don't  think  the  lady  has  a  devil,  even  if  the 
dog  has.  But  it  is  possible  that  they  both  saw 
a  devil  in  me." 

"  Then  why  did  not  Agar  Halfi  see  it  ?  "  was  the 
terse  reply. 

"Exactly,  my  friend,  that  is  the  curious  point," 
answered  the  Master  of  Storton. 

"  Besides,"  continued  the  Hindoo,  "  if  you  had  a 
devil,  you  would  show  signs  of  him,  and  there  are 
no  such  signs  to  my  knowledge." 

"  It  is  perplexing,"  replied  the  other  ;  "  but  still, 
I  don't  doubt  that  we  shall  unravel  it.  There  is 
nothing  which  we  have  yet  tackled  which  we  have 
not  conquered,  is  there  ?  "  Brentwood  paused, 
then  continued,  "excepting" — he  again  paused, 
and  looked  at  the  Hindoo,  who,  without  turning  his 
head,  said : 

"  Excepting  that  one  great  mystery.  Sahib,  which 
nearly  cost  you  your  life." 

The  Master  of  Storton  looked  thoughtful,  then  said 
in  a  low  voice  : 


"  Yes,  I  had  almost  forgotten.  Let  me  see,  how 
long  was  I  in  that  trance  ?  " 

"  Six  weeks  and  two  days.  Sahib ;  and  at  times 
I  did  not  know  whether  you  were  alive  or  dead.  You 
never  moved  nor  spoke  a  word,  and  although  I  did 
my  best,  I  could  not  rouse  you.  You  were  in  the 
grip  of  some  force  stronger  than  any  Agar  Halfi 

"And  but  for  your  charmed  ring,  my  friend,  I 
should  not  be  here  now  !  " 

The  Hindoo  slightly  shrugged  his  shoulders  as  he 
answered : 

"  Who  knows  ?  " 

"  Yes,"  continued  the  Master  of  Storton,  "  if  I  had 
been  wise  I  should  have  taken  your  advice  and  for- 
gotten that  such  a  place  existed ;  then  I  should  not 
have  got  this,"  and  pulling  down  his  coUar  he  pointed 
to  a  jagged  white  scar  about  three  inches  long. 

"  And  yet  there  was  no  wound.  Sahib  !  " 

*'  Still,  Agar  Halfi,  I  will  be  quits  with  that  ghost 
yet !  For  that  reason  I  am  glad  you  photographed 
for  me  those  footprints."  He  paused,  and  whistled 
softly,  then  went  on  : 

"  My  word,  each  one  fully  three  times  as  big  as  a 
man's  hand  !  And,  as  we  have  proved  since,  no 
known  bird  has  got  a  foot  like  that.  But  the 
strangest  part  of  all  is,  that  there  were  only  two 
of  them,  and  those  close  together,  barely  three 
yards  from  where  I  was  lying." 

"That  was  so.  Sahib,  and,  although  I  searched 
closely,  I  discovered  no  others." 

Brentwood  thought  silently  for  a  time,  then 
remarked : 


"  It  is  very  extraordinary,  but  look  here,  Agar 
Halfi,  if  it  had  not  been  material,  how  could  it  have 
left  footprints  ?     Answer  me  that." 

"  And  if  it  was  material,  Sahib,  how  could  it  have 
not  left  its  tracks  ?  " 

They  both  looked  at  each  other  and  laughed.  Then 
Brentwood  closed  his  eyes  and  said  quietly  : 

"  Presumably,  being  of  the  bird  type,  it  could  have 

"True,  Sahib,  but  Agar  Halfi  did  not  see  it 

"  It  was  dark,  my  friend." 

"  True  again,  but  Agar  Halfi  could  see  the  Sahib 
plainly  enough,  and  he  could  also  see  the  great 
dim  shape  of  the  hobgobUn,  it  being  hardly  three 
strides  away  from  where  you  were  lying." 

"My  face  is  white,  besides  I  was  lying  close  to 
the  fire,  and  could  easily  be  seen  by  you.  But  the 
night  was  dark,  you  said,  there  being  no  moon,  and 
if  the  thing  was  sombre  in  colour  you  could  not 
have  seen  it  any  more  than  to  think  it  was  a 

"  Also  true.  Sahib ;  but  again,  if  it  were  material, 
and  did  not  walk  away  (and  it  must  have  left  its 
tracks  if  it  had  done  that),  it  must  have  flown  away 
as  you  said.  But  Agar  Halfi  did  not  hear  the  rustle 
of  its  wings  !  " 

Brentwood  smiled  at  the  Oriental's  arguments, 
the  subtlety  of  which  proved  to  him  that  there  was 
reason  in  the  Hindoo's  make-up,  and  what  was  more, 
common  sense. 

"  Quite  so.  Agar  Halfi ;  but  then  you  were  horror- 
stricken,  and  all  your  attention  was  apparently 


turned  to  me,  and  in  that  case  you  may  not  have 
heard  it  fly  away." 

"  If  the  Sahib  judges  the  size  of  the  evil  one  from 
his  feet,  does  he  think  it  possible  that  Agar  Halfi 
would  not  hear  him  fly  away  under  any  circum- 
stances ?  I  have  ears,  and  should  have  had  to  be 
unconscious  not  to  have  heard  him." 

"Even  then,"  continued  the  Master  of  Storton, 
"  you  may  have  been  oblivious  to  all  external  things 
except  the  one.  Remember  the  state  you  were  in ; 
all  sorts  of  things  may  happen  under  such  con- 

The  Hindoo  shook  his  head  as  he  replied  : 

"  You  can  find  an  answer  to  all  things,  but  Agar 
Halfi  was  not  deceived." 

"Well,  we  will  leave  it  at  that,"  continued  the 
Master  of  Storton  ;  "  and  now,  I  want  to  tell  you 
that  probably  I  shall  be  visiting  the  priory  ruins 
to-morrow  with  the  Vicar  and  his  sister,  and  I  want 
you  to  come  also.  It  is  possible  that  there  may  be 
work  to  do  there." 



In  the  morning  Arthur  Shepperton  called  for  the 
Vicar  and  his  sister,  and  they  went  together  to 
the  priory.  Brentwood  had  not  arrived  when 
they  got  there,  so  they  sat  down  to  wait,  on 
the  same  seat  that  Shepperton  had  utilised  a  few 
days  ago. 

Alletson,  under  his  outward  reserve,  was  excited, 
being  keenly  interested  in  the  exploration,  in  view 
of  what  he  had  himself  experienced  at  the  priory. 
Shepperton  seemed  sullen  and  taciturn,  and  Con- 
stance appeared  indifferent. 

For  a  time  none  of  them  spoke,  the  two  men 
being  apparently  absorbed  each  in  his  own  thoughts, 
whilst  Constance  was  occupied  in  studying  the  out- 
side of  the  ruin. 

Occasionally,  each  would  look  in  the  direction 
from  which  Brentwood  should  come.  At  last  the 
Vicar  pulled  out  his  watch  and  broke  the  silence  by 

"  It  is  barely  ten  yet ;  I  don't  think  there  will 
be  any  doubt  about  his  coming." 

Shepperton  yawned  in  a  bored  sort  of  fashion, 
and  answered,  in  a  way  which  seemed  to  imply  that 
it  didn't  matter  whether  the  Master  of  Storton 
turned  up  or  not,  "  I  hope  not,"  and  then  lapsed 
into  silence  again. 



"  I  believe  these  ruins  are  very  old,"  said  Alletson, 
addressing  himself  to  Shepperton. 

"  Yes,"  replied  the  latter.  "They  date  back  to 
the  fourteenth  century."  He  paused,  then  added  : 
"There  are  some  queer  stories  connected  with 
their  history,  and,  as  is  usual  with  such  places,  it  is 
of  course  haunted." 

The  scorn  in  his  voice  drew  Constance's  attention  ; 
it  irritated  her  a  Uttle,  so  she  said : 

"  Don't  you  think  it  probable  that  some  of  these 
old  places  really  are  haunted  ?  " 

"Certainly  not.  Miss  Alletson,"  he  replied  em- 
phatically. "  It  is  merely  superstitious  belief,  which 
has  been,  and  I  believe  is  now,  used  in  some  countries 
by  the  Romish  priests  to  frighten  the  ignorant  into 

"That  may  be  true,"  retorted  Constance,  "but 
it  does  not  prove  that  houses  are  not  haunted,  and 
there  are  some  very  intelligent  people  who  agree 
that  they  are  !  " 

Shepperton  smiled  in  a  confident  way,  and 
answered : 

"  You  may  take  it  from  me.  Miss  Alletson,  that 
modem  science  has  exploded  all  such  theories." 

His  reply  roused  Constance.  Her  whole  indi- 
viduality resented  his  take-it-for-granted  attitude 
that  women  do  not  and  cannot  understand  these 
things,  and  must  accept,  like  a  questioning  child, 
what  a  man  says  as  right. 

"  Do  you  mean  to  imply,  Mr.  Shepperton,  that 
you  know  absolutely  that  such  is  the  case,  because, 
if  so,  I  should  like  to  be  enlightened.  I  am  rather 
under  the  impression  that  modem  science  has  not 


yet  arrived  at  a  stage  when  it  can  satisfactorily  deal 
with  such  problems." 

He  was  a  little  bit  nonplussed,  not  expecting  such 
an  answer  from  a  woman,  and,  while  he  sought  for 
a  suitable  reply,  he  glanced  uneasily  at  her  brother, 
who  was  looking  at  the  floor,  listening  in  grim  silence. 

At  last  he  said  : 

"  Well,  so  far  as  I  know,  every  case  that  has  been 
investigated  has  been  traced  to  spiritualistic  trickery, 
or  something  of  that  kind.  Besides,  no  one  has  yet 
been  able  to  prove  to  anyone  else  that  he  or  she  has 
seen  a  ghost,  which  I  think  is  fair  proof  that  so-called 
apparitions  are  mental  disturbances,  traceable  to 
physical  disorders." 

"  And  if  you  could  not  prove  that  the  quack's 
patent  medicine  was  not  a  cure-all,  would  you  ad- 
vance that  as  a  proof  that  it  was  ?  " 

Shepperton  looked  at  her  a  little  mystified.  Her 
counter-question  rather  puzzled  him,  so  he  answered : 
"  I  fail  to  see  what  bearing  your  remark  has  upon 
what  I  said." 

"  Well,  to  put  it  in  another  way,  Mr.  Shepperton, 
because  you  cannot  prove  one  thing,  that  does  not 
prove  another,  and  the  fact  that  no  one  has  proved 
to  anyone  else  that  he  or  she  has  seen  a  ghost,  does 
not  prove  that  there  are  not  any  ghosts,  any  more 
than  the  failure  to  prove  that  a  patent  medicine  is 
not  a  cure-all  proves  that  it  is  one  !  " 

"  Still,"  he  answered  doggedly,  "  the  fact  remains 
that  people  who  are  suffering  from  mental  and  physi- 
cal disorders  do  see  visions " 

"  Which  again,"  interposed  Constance,  "  does  not 
prove  that  healthy  people  do  not  see  them,  and  if 


you  will  look  up  the  records  of  the  Society  for 
Psychical  Research,  you  will  find  distinct  proofs  of 
the  latter." 

There  was  a  brief  silence,  during  which  Shepperton 
slowly  formed  a  different  opinion  of  the  Vicar's  sister. 
He  had  an  uncomfortable  feeling  that  Miss  Alletson 
was  better  grounded  than  he  in  that  particular 
subject  at  any  rate. 

Discretion  warned  him  to  let  the  matter  drop 
there  ;  but  that  feehng  of  being  beaten  egged  him  on. 
It  was  not  likely  that  she  could  have  had  any  per- 
sonal experience  of  such  things,  so  he  returned  to 
the  attack. 

"  I've  had  practical  experience  of  these  matters, 
Miss  Alletson.  I  attended  for  six  months  what  was 
called  a  *  Public  Circle,'  which  used  to  be  held  in 
Westsea  once  a  fortnight.  I  went  purposely  to  find 
out  for  myself  whether  there  was  anything  at  all 
in  what  so-called  spiritualists  claimed." 

Constance  looked  interested. 

"  Well  ?  "  she  said. 

"  Well,"  he  repeated,  "  at  the  end  of  that  time 
1  came  away  satisfied  that  the  people  who  went 
there  were  merely  their  own  dupes.  Not  one  shred 
nor  atom  of  rational  evidence  did  I  find.  Ghosts  and 
messages  from  ghosts  innumerable  were  supposed  to 
have  appeared  and  been  received,  but  as  for  proof 
of  either — ^well,  it  was  not  forthcoming.  The  people 
simply  worked  themselves  up  into  an  emotional 
state  and  just  believed." 

"  And  was  that  the  end  of  your  investigation, 
Mr.  Shepperton  ?  " 

"  Well,"  he  rephed,  "  do  you  think  it  was  neces- 


sary  for  me  to  go  any  further ;  surely  the  thing 
condemned  itself  ?  " 

"  You  seem  to  have  been  unfortunate  in  your 
endeavours,"  she  answered. 

"  Unfortunate  !  "  he  exclaimed.    "  How  ?  " 

"  When  investigating  psychic  phenomena,  public 
circles  are  not  conducive  to  good  results,  Mr. 
Shepperton.  The  conditions  created  are  very 
mixed  and  unharmonious.  Besides,  such  inves- 
tigation requires  preparation.  It  is  necessary  for 
all  the  investigators  to  be  in  mental  harmony  ; 
a  specially  prepared  room  must  be  used ;  proper 
clothing  worn  that  is  kept  for  the  purpose  ;  ab- 
stention from  stimulants  and  meats  is  desirable ;  and 
above  all,  perfect  bodily  cleanliness.  Under  such 
conditions,  investigators  may  get  a  lot  more  than 
they  expect,  after  a  fair  trial." 

Shepperton  listened  with  the  growing  conviction 
that  the  Vicar's  sister  knew  something  about  the 
matter  under  discussion,  but  somehow  he  could  not 
bring  himself  to  accept  defeat,  so  he  remarked  : 

"  Do  you  beheve  in  such  things  ?  " 

"  I  can't  say  that  I  actually  believe,  but  evi- 
dence points  to  there  being  something  in  it." 

"  What  do  you  think  about  it  ?  "  he  said,  turning 
to  the  Vicar. 

The  latter,  who  had  been  greatly  amused  at  the 
httle  battle,  roused  himself. 

"  Well,  I  am  bound  to  say  that  there  are  many 
things  connected  with  the  soul  and  the  spirit  which 
are  not  understood,  and  as  far  as  I  know,  modem 
research  on  psychological  lines  tends  to  show  that 
we  are  on  the  verge  of  strange  discoveries.    I  have 


no  settled  views  either  way.  But  perhaps  Mr. 
Brentwood  could  tell  you  something  if  you  are 
anxious  to  get  information  ■  he  has  made  a  Ufe- 
long  study  of  such  problems." 

"  Oh  !  "  exclaimed  Shepperton.  He  paused,  then 
went  on :  "  So  I  suppose  it  is  only  natural  to  ex- 
pect that  he  thinks  these  strange  disappearances 
are  due  to  some  occult  agency  ?  " 

"  I  don't  think  so,"  repUed  the  Vicar  coldly. 
"  Anyhow,  it  was  I  who  first  put  it  to  him  that 
this  might  be  the  case." 

"  Oh  !  "  exclaimed  Shepperton  again. 

At  this  juncture  their  attention  was  arrested  by 
the  appearance  of  a  great  dog,  which  had  evidently 
arrived  unnoticed  while  they  were  talking.  Con- 
stance uttered  an  exclamation,  and  both  men  visibly 
started.  As  for  the  dog,  he  seemed  quite  uncon- 
cerned. After  a  cursory  glance,  he  approached  the 
seat  and  sniffed  at  them ;  then  he  deUberately 
went  back  to  Constance,  placed  his  great  head 
on  her  lap,  looked  up  into  her  face  and  slowly 
wagged  his  tail.  Overcoming  her  first  sense  of 
fear,  she  patted  his  head  and  his  tail  wagged 

"  I  see  he  wants  to  make  friends  with  you,  Miss 
Alletson ! " 

They    all    turned   from    studjring    the    dog,   to 
^find    Brentwood    standing   about   a   dozen   paces 

"  Really,"  said  Constance,  with  a  httle  laugh, 
"  I  can  hardly  say  whether  or  not  I  appreciate 
his  overtures  ;  I'm  not  sure  I'm  not  afraid  of 



"  No  one  with  whom  Hector  makes  friends  need 
be  afraid  of  him/'  was  the  quiet  answer. 

"  I  shouldn't  care  to  have  a  row  with  him," 
remarked  Shepperton  satirically. 

"No,"  replied  the  Master  of  Storton.  "They 
are  very  formidable  enemies,  but,  on  the  other 
hand,  excellent  friends,  Mr. — er." 

"  I'm  sorry,"  interposed  the  Vicar.  "  Allow  me 
to  introduce  you  to  Mr.  Brentwood,  Mr.  Shep- 

The  Master  of  Storton  bowed  gravely,  while 
Shepperton  curtly  inclined  his  head. 

"  I'm  sorry  to  be  a  little  late,"  continued 
Brentwood.  "  Something  went  wrong  with  my 
motor-car,  and  I  had  to  walk.  However,  I  don't 
think  there  is  much  the  matter,  and  in  all  proba- 
biHty  it  will  be  here  shortly  and  we  can  drive  back 

"  Have  you  decided  upon  any  mode  of  pro- 
cedure ?  " 

The  Vicar  shook  his  head  smihngly,  as  he  re- 
plied : 

"  I'm  afraid  not ;  in  fact  I  rather  think  we  had 
aU  left  it  to  you  as  a  matter  of  course." 

"  Perhaps,"  ventured  Brentwood,  "  Mr.  Shepper- 
ton has  some  suggestion  ?  " 

"  Oh  no,"  was  the  indifferent  reply.  "  Person- 
ally I'm  not  skilled  in  such  matters,  and  shall  be 
glad  if  you  will  direct  our  operations." 

"  Very  well.  First  of  all,  we  will  try  to  get  the 
trail  of  Miss  Hobson  from  the  glove  by  the  aid 
of  Hector." 

They  entered  the  ruins  by  the  door  in  the  wall, 


Brentwood  and  Shepperton  leading  the  way,  fol- 
lowed by  the  other  two  a  short  distance  behind. 

"  By  the  aid  of  the  dog,  I  think  we  can  prove 
whether  Miss  Hobson  " — ^he  paused,  and  added  in 
a  lower  voice — "  or  her  body,  is  in  these  ruins  !  " 

"  You  may  find  her  body,"  exclaimed  Shep- 
perton bitterly,  "  but  it  is  surely  impossible  that 
she  could  be  alive  after  all  this  time  ?  " 

"  It  is  not  impossible,"  responded  Brentwood 

"  Well  then,  improbable,"  returned  Shepperton, 
with  shght  irritation. 

Brentwood's  face  hardened  a  little  as  he  replied  : 

"  I  have  no  wish  to  be  pedantic,  but  there  is  a 
distinct  difference  between  impossible  and  impro- 
bable, as  you  must  know,  and  in  a  matter  of  this 
kind  we  cannot  be  too  careful." 

"  Very  good,"  replied  Shepperton.  "  But  I  may 
as  well  tell  you  frankly  that  I  have  little,  if  any, 
faith  in  your  theory ;  on  the  other  hand  I  wish  to 
be  fair,  and  am  willing  to  see  it  through." 

The  Master  of  Storton  made  no  reply  to  the 
last  remark.  He  had  had  too  much  experience  to 
be  drawn  into  a  desultory  argument,  unless  it  was 
forced  upon  him.  But  the  unconscious  egotism 
displayed  by  his  companion  in  practically  stating 
that  he  was  willing  to  let  the  theory  have  a  fair 
chance,  amused  him  not  a  little. 

But  Shepperton  was  in  an  antagonistic  mood, 
and  continued : 

"I'm  not  afraid  to  face  a  ghost  when  I  meet 
one,  a  thing  which  I  have  not  yet  done,  and  as 
far  as  I  can  judge,  never  shall." 


"  I'm  glad  that  you  will  not  be  afraid,"  returned 
the  other. 

Shepperton  flushed.  "  Your  words  imply  that  I 
probably  shall  meet  one  ?  " 

Brentwood  did  not  answer.  He  very  nearly  said, 
"  I  hope  so,"  but  thought  better  of  it.  Instead, 
his  mind  drifted  to  a  similar  remark  he  once  made 
to  Agar  Halfi,  some  years  ago,  the  evening  before 
he  nearly  lost  his  life  in  Afghanistan. 

His  reflections  in  that  direction  were  interrupted 
by  his  becoming  aware  that  Shepperton  was  eyeing 
him  curiously,  awaiting  a  reply.  "  If  you  follow 
this  case  through,  as  you  say  you  will,  it  is  more 
than  probable  that  you  will  modify  your  views  on 
such  matters." 

"  Well,  I'm  open  to  conviction,"  was  the  reply, 
in  a  dogmatic  tone. 

"  So  was  I  once  !  " 

Shepperton  stared  hard  at  him,  the  remark  was 
so  easily  and  coolly  made  that  he  hardly  knew 
how  to  take  it.    At  last  he  said  : 

"  Then  you  have  seen  a  ghost  ?  " 

Brentwood  returned  his  look  calmly,  and  a  very 
faint  smile  appeared  in  his  eyes  as  he  answered  : 

"  Not  in  my  normal  state." 

Shepperton  gave  a  gesture  of  contempt,  as  much 
as  to  say,  "  I  thought  he  would  wriggle,"  then 
replied : 

"  Plenty  of  people  have  seen  them  hke  that." 

"  You  mean  phantoms  of  the  mind,  don't  you  ?  " 

"  Certainly  ;  isn't  that  what  you  mean  ?  " 

"  No ! " 

Shepperton  waited  for  him  to  continue,  but  was 


disappointed.  It  is  probable  that  the  Master  of 
Storton  would  have  explained  there  and  then  and 
set  at  rest  the  other  man's  doubts,  had  not  an  en- 
tirely new  circumstance  intervened  and  stopped  an 
explanation  which  would  have  saved  much  pain  and 
trouble  for  some  people,  and  very  nearly  a  tragedy 
for  others.  Such  a  happening  is  what  we  call 
"  The  Hand  of  Fate,"  which  is  simply  a  name  for 
things  which  we  do  not  understand,  and  therefore, 
over  which  we  have  no  control,  unless  we  hit  upon 
the  solution  by  blind  luck,  and  then  some  people 
call  it  "  Providence."  Others  less  susceptible  say 
nothing,  but  wonder. 

Just  when  he  would  have  replied,  Brentwood 
had  a  distinct  feeling  that  Constance  Alletson  was 
not  only  looking  at  him,  but  thinking  about  him, 
and  as  he  became  cognisant  of  the  thought  a  strange 
trembling  passed  through  his  body.  He  felt  that 
she  was  trying  to  analyse  something  in  him,  and 
was  mistrustful  about  it. 

This  at  once  recalled  to  his  mind  what  had 
happened  during  the  experiment  at  the  Manor  a 
few  days  ago,  and  he  did  not  feel  at  ease.  A 
sudden  impulse — ^which  he  promptly  suppressed — 
urged  him  to  ask  her  about  it  there  and  then.  No, 
it  would  be  better  to  wait.  Perhaps,  after  all,  it 
was  but  the  strangeness  of  circumstances  which 
had  caused  it,  and  if  that  were  so,  he  would  be  sorry 
to  have  spoken.     But  what  about  the  dog  ? 

The  sound  of  quickened  footsteps  caused  both 
Shepperton  and  him  to  turn.  Just  behind  were  the 
Vicar  and  his  sister,  and  with  them  Agar  Halfi. 

"  We  heard  your  car  coming  along  just  as  we 


were  about  to  enter  through  the  door  in  the  wall, 
so  waited,"  explained  Constance. 

To  Shepperton's  surprise,  Brentwood  introduced 
him  to  Agar  Halfi,  and  then  explained  to  the  Hindoo 
what  they  proposed  to  do.  Whereupon  the  latter 
silently  leashed  Hector,  and  the  Master  of  Storton 
gave  the  dog  the  scent  from  the  glove,  while  they 
all  watched  in  silence.  After  momentary  hesitation. 
Hector  started  off  in  a  northerly  direction  along  the 
outside  of  the  ruined  wall.  He  travelled  the  whole 
length  of  it,  then  rounding  the  angle  to  the  east, 
continued  at  a  brisk  pace  until  he  reached  that 
part  of  the  wall  which  used  to  form  the  back  of 
the  altar.  Here  he  stopped,  and  whined,  then 
making  straight  for  an  opening  a  little  lower  down, 
got  into  the  chancel,  and  walked  restlessly  all 
round,  at  last  coming  to  a  stop  at  the  altar.  Here^ 
he  pawed  the  ground,  whining  fretfully.  They  all 
looked  at  each  other,  perplexed. 

"  Underground  ?  "  queried  Shepperton,  in  a  low 

Brentwood  nodded,  and  motioning  to  the  Hindoo 
to  hold  back  the  dog,  carefully  inspected  the  stone 
flags.  But  not  a  sign  of  anything  having  been 
disturbed  could  be  detected.  So  far  as  could  be 
seen,  the  floor  was  as  it  had  lain  for  centuries. 

It  was  Alletson  who  solved  the  difficulty.  \\Tiile 
the  others  had  been  intently  examining  the  flags, 
he  had  been  looking  at  those  parts  of  the  wall 
which  still  remained  intact,  and  had  alighted  on  a 
secret  door,  which  by  accident  he  had  pushed  open. 
It  was  part  of  the  wall,  fitting  exactly  into  the 
pattern  of  the  stone,  and  was  on  the  inner  side  of 


one  of  the  outside  buttresses.  When  opened,  it 
revealed  stone  steps  leading  down  from  the  back 
of  the  buttress,  underneath  the  chancel. 

Lighting  one  of  the  motor  lamps  which  he  had 
brought  with  him.  Agar  Halfi  descended  after  the 
dog,  and  the  rest  of  the  party  followed. 

They  discovered  themselves  in  a  chamber  or 
vault,  which  apparently  ran  under  the  full  extent 
of  the  chancel. 

Straining  at  his  leash.  Hector  made  straight  for 
the  west  side  of  the  vault  and  started  scratching  at 
the  wall,  sniffing  and  growhng  alternately.  Here 
they  came  to  a  dead  stop,  for  seek  as  they  would, 
no  sign  of  any  way  through  the  wall  could  they 

Baffled,  they  turned  their  attention  to  the  vault 
itself,  and  almost  immediately  a  discovery  was 
made.  Before  they  had  proceeded  many  yards, 
the  Hindoo  stumbled,  and  uttered  something  which 
sounded  like  a  curse,  at  the  same  time  the  dog 
bayed  wamingly,  and  Constance  clung  tighter  to 
her  brother's  arm. 

Bringing  the  lamp  to  bear  on  the  spot,  they 
found  the  obstacle  over  which  the  Hindoo  had 
stumbled,  and  Shepperton  gave  an  exclamation  of 
consternation  as  he  stooped  to  look. 

No,  it  was  not  Elsie  Hobson.  Lying  with  arms 
outstretched,  a  look  of  intense  horror  on  his  face, 
lay  Henry  Thornton  ! 

The  Master  of  Storton  bent  silently  down  to 
examine  the  body,  and  when  he  rose,  they  all 
noticed  that  his  face  was  very  stern,  and  his  mouth 
shut  in  a  straight  line. 

136         AGAR   HALFI   THE   MYSTIC 

He  looked  across  the  vault  into  the  darkness, 
and  before  his  mind  rose  a  vision  of  a  wild  spot 
in  Afghanistan,  for  across  the  throat  of  the  un- 
fortunate clergyman  was  a  jagged  wound  about 
two  and  a  half  inches  long,  and  on  either  side  of 
the  body  was  the  imprint  of  a  huge  bird-shaped 




As  was  to  be  expected,  the  Coroner's  Jury  re- 
turned a  verdict  of  "  Murder  against  some  person 
or  persons  unknown." 

From  the  medical  evidence  it  transpired  that 
death  was  caused  by  heart  failure,  due  to  shock, 
though  it  was  stated  that  the  wound  in  the  throat 
would  have  been  sufficient  to  kill.  As  to  what 
caused  the  wound,  there  was  no  clear  indication, 
the  evidence  merely  stating,  "  some  blunt  instru- 
ment of  a  peculiar  nature." 

The  discovery  was,  of  course,  the  central  topic  of 
the  neighbourhood  for  days,  and  did  not  subside 
until  some  time  after  the  remains  of  the  Rev.  Henry 
Thornton  had  been  decently  interred  in  the  church- 

The  police  made  a  thorough  search  of  the  priory 
ruins,  and  hopes  ran  high  that  some  clue  to  Elsie 
Hobson's  disappearance  would  be  found ;  but  in 
spite  of  all  their  efforts,  nothing  of  any  consequence 
occurred,  and  gradually  the  general  excitement 

During  this  period  Shepperton,  although  he  gave 
the  police  all  the  help  he  could,  deliberately  with- 
held from  them  the  one  item  of  information  which, 
had  he  chosen  to  give  it,  might  have  at  once  brought 

matters  to  an  issue.    The  photograph  which  he  had 



picked  up  was  probably  the  key  to  the  mystery  j 
but  he  had  determined  that  until  he  had  sufficient 
evidence  to  condemn  the  Master  of  Storton  he 
would  work  alone.  There  was  no  doubt  in  his 
mind  that  Brentwood  knew  all  about  it,  and  he  had 
every  reason  to  beheve  that  the  crimes  had  been 
perpetrated  by  him.  If  the  photograph  had  not 
been  sufficient  to  indicate  that  he  knew  something, 
the  start  which  he  gave  (Shepperton  remembered 
particularly  that  he  uttered  no  exclamation)  when 
he  examined  the  body,  and  saw  the  wound  in  the 
throat,  was  sufficient  to  show  that  the  Master  of 
Storton  was  deeply  involved  in  the  case,  if  not 
actually  guilty.  Further,  the  whole  circumstances 
pointed  to  the  conclusion  that  the  wound  had  some 
sort  of  a  connection  with  the  footprints. 

He  pondered  over  it  almost  daily,  and  the  more 
he  thought  about  it,  the  more  the  idea  gained 
strength  that  Brentwood  was  the  culprit.  In  that 
case,  if  he  were  going  to  bring  the  crime  home 
to  his  door,  he  would  have  to  act  very  carefully. 
It  would  not  be  easy  to  circumvent  the  subtlety 
of  a  man  who,  evidently  guilty,  had  the  cleverness 
to  be  one  of  the  first  to  come  forward  to  help  clear 
the  matter  up.  Shepperton  saw  that  such  a  course 
served  a  double  purpose.  It  not  only  enabled  the 
criminal  to  know  what  the  genuine  investigators 
were  doing,  it  gave  him  every  opportunity  to  mis- 
lead them  ;  and,  of  course,  it  was  hardly  likely 
that  anyone  would  suspect  the  man,  when  working 
in  co-operation  with  him. 

One  consideration  which  caused  him  to  adopt 
this  course  was,  that  he  determined  to  leave  nothing 

A   WARNING  139 

undone  likely  to  bring  the  criminal  to  justice — ^he 
had  no  doubt  that  Elsie  was  dead. 

While  deUberating,  it  occurred  to  him  that  per- 
haps it  would  be  as  well  to  put  the  Vicar  and 
his  sister  on  their  guard  against  Brentwood.  It 
would  not  be  just  on  his  part  to  let  them  get  too 
far  involved  with  the  Master  of  Storton,  when  it 
lay  in  his  power  to  warn  them.  But  they  would 
have  to  faithfully  promise  to  keep  his  secret  of  the 
photograph.  Be  it  to  his  credit,  that  he  should 
thus  think  of  others  during  his  own  hours  of 

After  further  thinking  it  over,  he  decided  that 
the  only  thing  to  do  would  be  to  take  the  Vicar 
and  his  sister  entirely  into  his  confidence.  If  he 
must  tell  them  an3i:hing  at  all,  he  might  as  well 
tell  them  everything.  No  sooner  had  he  made  up 
his  mind  than  he  decided  to  act  upon  it.  Accord- 
ingly he  went  straight  to  the  Vicarage  that  after- 
noon on  leaving  his  office. 

Alletson  welcomed  him  in  his  kind  way,  and 
Constance  invited  him  to  join  them  at  tea,  which 
was  ready  on  the  table.  During  the  meal  they 
conversed  on  ordinary  topics,  and  it  was  not  until 
Martha  had  cleared  the  table  and  quietly  closed  the 
door  after  her  that  Shepperton  mentioned  he  had 
something  of  grave  importance  to  impart  to  them. 

The  Vicar's  face  grew  stem,  while  Constance 
poked  the  fire  uneasily,  and  for  a  short  time  there 
was  silence.  Seeing  that  he  hesitated,  Alletson  said 
kindly  : 

"  Well,  Mr.  Shepperton,  what  is  the  trouble  ?  " 

The  remark  seemed  to  enable  Shepperton  to  pull 

140         AGAR   HALFI   THE   MYSTIC 

himself  together,  and  leaning  his  elbows  on  the 
table,  he  answered  deliberately  : 

'•'  To  tell  you  the  simple  truth,  I've  come  to  warn 
you  against  the  Master  of  Storton  !  " 

Constance  stared  at  him  curiously,  and  the  Vicar 
uttered  a  surprised  "  Oh  !  " 

"  I'm  sorry  to  startle  you,  Mr.  AUetson,"  he 
continued,  "  but  I'm  so  sure  of  my  ground.  If 
I  had  had  any  doubts,  I  should  not  have  come. 
All  I  ask  is  that  you  will  both  respect  my  confi- 
dence ;  further  than  that,  I  do  not  want  to  bind 
you  in  any  way.  The  missing  links  in  the  chain 
I  will  seek  out  myself." 

"  Surely,  surely  it  is  not  possible  that  Mr.  Brent- 
wood can  be  the  perpetrator  of  such  abominable 
crimes  ?  "  exclaimed  the  Vicar  in  a  pained  voice. 

Why,  he  did  not  know,  but  turning  suddenly  to 
Constance,  Shepperton  asked  : 

"  What  is  your  opinion,  Miss  Alletson  ?  " 

To  the  surprise  of  both  men,  Constance  did  not 
reply.  She  simply  shook  her  head  and  turned  her 
gaze  to  the  fire. 

During  the  interval  of  silence  that  ensued,  her 
brother  looked  at  her  in  pure  astonishment.  He 
could  not  understand  her  not  agreeing  with  what 
he  himself  thought ;  being,  of  course,  quite  inno- 
cent of  what  had  occurred  during  the  experiment 
at  the  Manor. 

"  Well,  after  you  have  heard  all  I  have  to  say, 
I  think  you  will  agree  that  there  is  radical  ground 
upon  which  to  suspect  Mr.  Brentwood ;  and, 
further,  that  it  will  take  little  more  to  bring  the 
crimes  home  to  him." 

A  WARNING  141 

Whereupon,  producing  the  photograph,  Shepper- 
ton  related  all  that  he  knew. 

There  was  a  painful  interval  after  Shepperton's 
story,  which  did  not  tend  to  make  him  feel  very 
comfortable,  and  he  glanced  uneasily  first  from  the 
Vicar  to  his  sister,  then  back  again.  Alletson  had 
risen  and  was  pacing  the  room  with  short,  nervous 
steps ;  he  was  clearly  agitated.  Constance  re- 
mained looking  dully  at  the  fire.  She  was  thinking 
about  that  weird  experience  she  had  gone  through 
a  fortnight  ago,  and  the  very  thought  of  what  she 
had  suSered  tended  to  unnerve  her. 

Unable  to  bear  the  suspense  longer,  Shepperton 
turned  to  the  Vicar  and  asked  in  a  doubtful  voice  : 

"  Don't  you  think  my  grounds  of  suspicion 
satisfactory  ?  " 

Alletson  clenched  his  hands  as  though  something 
hurt  him. 

"  Certainly,  certainly,  Mr.  Shepperton,  they  seem 
at  first  sight  only  too  clear.  It  is  not  that  I  ques- 
tion things  in  any  way,  but — but  " — the  words 
seemed  to  be  forced  from  him — "  you  see,  we  have 
been  friends." 

The  expression  on  the  Vicar's  face  made  Shep- 
perton feel  sorry  that  he  had  had  to  hurt  his 

Constance  looked  at  her  brother  sympatheti- 
cally, and  half  rose  as  if  to  go  over  to  him ;  but 
remembering  that  they  were  not  alone,  sat  down 

Her  movements  attracted  Shepperton's  attention 
to  her,  and  he  said  : 

"It  is  fairly  clear,  don't  you  think,  that  Mr. 


Brentwood  is  pretty  thoroughly  mixed  up  in  this 
matter  ?  " 

"  There  hardly  seems  to  be  any  doubt  about  it," 
she  replied  slowly.  "  And  further,  I  think  I  had 
better  tell  you  that — ^that — "  Her  sudden  hesi- 
tation caused  both  men  to  look  at  her  significantly, 
eager  to  hear  what  she  had  to  say,  but  no  words 
came  from  her  lips.  Instead,  she  sat  with  open 
mouth,  staring  hard  at  the  wall,  the  colour  coming 
and  going  in  her  cheeks,  and  her  bosom  heaving  as 
though  she  were  suppressing  some  undue  excite- 
ment. Shepperton  stood  up,  and  looked  at  her  in 
amazement,  while  her  brother  glanced  askance  at 
the  wall,  thinking  that  he  could  see  something 
there.  Then  jumping  up,  he  quickly  crossed  the 
room,  and  taking  her  hand  exclaimed  : 

"  Constance,  Constance,  what  is  the  matter  ?  " 

But  for  a  minute  she  did  not  move,  and  con- 
tinued to  stare  at  the  wall,  as  though  it  fascinated 

"  Speak,  Constance  !  "  But  she  did  not  seem  to 
hear  his  voice.  At  last,  heaving  a  deep  sigh,  she 
lay  back  in  the  chair  and  smiled  faintly,  while  her 
face  went  very  white. 

"  Fetch  me  some  water,  Philip,"  she  whispered. 
He  hurried  to  carry  out  her  bidding,  and  during  his 
absence  Shepperton,  evidently  embarrassed,  said  : 

"I  am  so  sorry.  Miss  Alletson;  I  hope  you  are 
not  ill.  I  sincerely  trust  that  what  I  have  said 
to-night  has  not  upset  you  ?  " 

She  looked  at  him  vacantly,  and  then  despair 
came  into  her  eyes.  Raising  her  hand  to  her  head 
in  a  bewildered  manner,  she  ejaculated  : 

A   WARNING  143 

"  I  cannot  do  it !  " 

"  Do  what  ?  "  he  queried,  not  understanding. 

But  she  did  not  answer.  Instead,  she  rose 
slowly  from  her  chair,  and  going  to  the  window, 
looked  out  into  the  twihght  which  was  fast 

She  must  have  stood  there  several  minutes  gaz- 
ing into  nothingness,  and  her  brother,  who  had 
meanwhile  entered  the  room,  had,  at  a  warning 
glance  from  Shepperton,  come  to  a  standstill, 
watching  her.  Shepperton  noticed  that  his  hand 
trembled,  and  sat  vacantly  looking  at  the  water  in 
the  tumbler  quivering  from  side  to  side,  until  a 
little  of  it  splashed  on  the  carpet.  Involuntarily  he 
looked  at  Alletson's  face,  and  his  expression  told 
him  at  once  that  something  further  had  occurred. 
Turning  quickly  to  the  figure  at  the  window,  he 
noticed  that  Constance  was  standing  with  her  hands 
over  her  ears,  as  though  to  shut  out  some  sound, 
and  her  face — ^which  they  could  see  in  profile — 
was  ashen  colour,  and  set  with  an  intensity  almost 

All  at  once  she  dropped  her  hands,  and  turning 
round  to  her  brother  remarked,  in  what  seemed  quite 
a  rational  manner  : 

"  Phihp,  I  am  going  out  for  a  little  while  !  "  and 
calmly  walked  towards  the  door.  Almost  instinc- 
tively her  brother  determined  that  she  should  not ; 
she  was  evidently  not  her  normal  self.  From  being 
nervously  excited,  he  suddenly  grew  calm — ^men  of 
his  particular  temperament  usually  do  when  con- 
fronted with  danger — and  quickly  walking  over  to 
his  sister,  quietly  led  her  into  a  chair,  and  gently, 


but  firmly,  made  her  sit  down.  Then  proffering 
the  glass  of  water,  said  kindly  : 

"  Drink  this." 

She  looked  at  him  rebeUiously,  as  though  she 
bitterly  resented  the  course  he  had  taken  with  her, 
and  at  first  it  seemed  as  if  she  would  violently 
resist  him.  Indeed,  he  was  greatly  surprised  at  the 
fierce  strength  she  showed  in  her  eyes.  But  the 
more  she  struggled,  the  more  determined  he  grew, 
and  gradually,  the  great  power  of  his  pure  and 
noble  mind,  developed  to  a  high  degree  by  a  life 
of  inward  growth  and  self-sacrifice,  overcame  the 
strange  abnormal  manifestation  of  his  sister's  will, 
though  she  fought  to  the  last  in  a  way  that  he  knew 
was  not  natural. 

When  she  had  ceased  to  struggle,  he  put  the  water 
to  her  lips,  and  she  drank  mechanically,  then  ex- 
claiming, "  Oh  dear  1  "  she  closed  her  eyes,  and 
lying  back  in  the  chair,  seemed  to  rest  peacefully 

Gently  loosing  her  hands,  Philip  put  the  glass  of 
water  on  the  table,  and  looked  at  Shepperton,  who 
asked  in  a  whisper  : 

"  ShaU  I  fetch  Dr.  Trestlewood  ?  "  He  did  not 
look  at  all  comfortable,  and  felt  that  in  some  way 
he  had  been  the  cause  of  this  strange  scene. 

"  No,  thanks,  I  don't  think  it  necessary  at  present 
at  any  rate,"  repUed  Alletson.  "  If  she  should  get 
worse,  I  can  send  Martha." 

"  I  do  hope  that  what  I  have  said  this  evening 
has  not  caused " 

"  No,  no,"  interrupted  the  Vicar.  "  I  don't  for 
a  moment  think  that,  Mr.  Shepperton." 

A   WARNING  145 

He  looked  much  relieved  at  the  Vicar's 

"  Is  there  anything  I  can  do  ?  "  he  asked. 

"  No,  thank  you,  Mr.  Shepperton,  I  think  she  will 
be  all  right  shortly." 

"  Then  I  think  I  will  be  going." 

They  walked  silently  into  the  hall,  and  AUetson 
quietly  opened  the  front  door. 

"  Good  night,"  he  said  kindly. 

"  Good  night,"  returned  the  other.  Then  he  hesi- 
tated for  a  moment,  drumming  his  fingers  on 
the  door  post,  with  a  troubled  look  on  his  face. 
The  Vicar  eyed  him  tentatively,  and  at  last  he 
spoke : 

"  You  will  keep  my  secret  about  that  photo- 
graph, Mr.  AUetson,  won't  you  ?  " 

"  Need  you  ask  ?  "  returned  the  Vicar.  "  You 
gave  me  your  confidence,  and  I  shall  respect  it." 

Shepperton  looked  apologetic,  and  then,  with 
expressive  thanks,  shook  hands  and  took  his  de- 

Carefully  closing  the  door,  AUetson  quickly  re- 
turned to  the  dining-room,  and,  glancing  at  his 
sister,  satisfied  himself  that  she  was  resting  peace- 
fully enough  by  the  fire. 

"  Do  you  feel  better,  Constance  ?  "  he  asked  in 
his  kind  voice. 

She  sighed,  and  did  not  answer  at  once.  At  last 
she  said  emotionally,  "  Yes,  Phihp,  thanks  to  you," 
and  her  eyes  filled  with  tears. 

"  All  right,"  he  answered  soothingly.  "  Don't 
worry,  my  dear;  sit  quietly  while  I  write  two  or 
three  letters." 


146         AGAR   HALFI   THE   MYSTIC 

He  saw  that  she  was  distressed,  and,  much  as  he 
wanted  to  know  what  it  was  that  had  upset  her, 
he  refrained  from  asking  questions. 

Obtaining  ink  and  paper  from  his  own  room,  he 
settled  himself  down,  and  for  nearly  half  an  hour 
nothing  was  audible  but  the  occasional  scratching 
of  his  pen  and  the  falling  in  of  the  fire,  as  it  gradu- 
ally burned  away. 

He  had  barely  sealed  the  last  envelope,  when 
a  sort  of  scratching  noise  on  the  French  window 
caused  them  both  to  turn  suddenly. 

"  What's  that  ?  "  queried  Constance  in  a  startled 

She  had  hardly  spoken,  when  a  mournful  howl 
came  from  outside,  followed  by  the  unmistakable 
whimper  of  a  dog.  With  a  frown  the  Vicar  rose, 
and,  walking  straight  to  the  window,  dehberately 
opened  it.  He  had  no  sooner  done  so,  when,  to  his 
surprise  and  annoyance,  a  great  dog  pushed  past 
him,  and,  going  up  to  his  sister,  put  his  muzzle  in 
her  hand,  and  started  wagging  his  tail  with  evident 

"  Good  gracious  !  "  she  exclaimed.  "  Why,  it's 
Hector !  " 

Alletson's  astonishment  was  so  great,  that  for  a 
moment  he  could  only  look ;  then  he  made  a  remark 
which  the  average  person  would  be  shocked  to  hear 
from  the  lips  of  a  clergyman. 

"  Good  Lord  !  "  he  exclaimed  irritably,  and  then, 
sitting  down,  he  started  to  laugh  heartily  as  the 
comical  side  of  the  thing  appealed  to  him. 

He  was  brought  to  a  sudden  halt  in  his  merriment 
by  Constance  remarking  : 

A   WARNING  147 

**  Philip,  it  may  appear  funny,  but  what  on  earth 
has  brought  the  animal  to  me  ?  " 

Her  brother  assumed  his  usual  gravity,  and,  after 
thinking  a  moment,  shook  his  head. 

"  Anyway,  he  can't  stay  here." 

Rising,  he  opened  the  door,  and  said  in  a  loud  voice : 

"  Here,  get  out !  " 

The  dog,  who  had  settled  himself  down  by  Con- 
stance's chair,  raised  his  head  for  a  moment  on 
hearing  the  Vicar's  voice,  and  eyed  him  contemp- 
tuously, as  much  as  to  say,  "  Put  me  out,  then,"  and 
resumed  his  previous  position. 

Crossing  the  room,  Alletson  seized  the  dog's  collar, 
and  started  to  pull  him  toward  the  door. 

"  Come  out  of  it,  you  brute  !  "  he  said  sternly. 

Hector,  with  a  shake  of  his  great  head,  freed 
himself,  and  coolly  lay  down  again  by  the  chair. 

The  Vicar  sat  down,  an  amused  look  in  his  eyes ; 
then  he  said : 

"  Perhaps  he  will  go  for  you,  Constance  ?  " 

"  Possibly,"  she  replied.  She  rose  and  walked 
to  the  door ;  the  dog  immediately  followed,  so, 
opening  the  front  door,  she  made  as  if  to  go  out; 
and  as  soon  as  the  animal  crossed  the  threshold, 
she  slipped  back,  and  shut  him  out.  But  she  had 
hardly  got  back  to  the  dining-room  before  a  loud 
howling  was  heard  outside.  They  Ustened  for  a 
time,  hoping  that  he  would  go  away,  but  he  kept 
whimpering  and  scratching  the  door,  and  even- 
tually made  such  a  row  that  Martha  appeared  with 
a  scared  look  on  her  face. 

"  Don't  be  frightened,  Martha,"  said  her  mistress ; 
"  it  is  only  a  dog." 


Martha  went  back  to  the  kitchen  doubtingly. 

"  We  had  better  let  him  in,  Philip,  and  send  a 
note  to  the  Manor  to  ask  Mr.  Brentwood  to  fetch 
him  away  in  the  morning." 

Her  brother  nodded,  and  reached  for  ink  and 
paper,  while  she  went  to  the  door  and  opened  it. 
Hector  immediately  stopped  howling,  and,  following 
Constance  into  the  house,  went  and  resumed  his 
old  position  by  her  chair  in  the  dining-room. 

"  It  is  quite  beyond  my  comprehension,  Phihp." 

"  It  is  extraordinary,"  he  replied,  without  ceasing 
to  write. 

"  Wherever  shall  we  put  him  ?  " 

"  He  cannot  stop  in  the  house,  that's  certain," 
responded  the  Vicar. 

But  Hector  decided  that  problem  for  himself. 
He  slept  on  the  mat  outside  Miss  AUetson's  bed- 
room door. 



"Agar  Halfi,  I've  lost  that  photograph  of  the 
footprints  !  " 

A  surprised  look  entered  the  Hindoo's  eyes  as  he 
gazed  at  the  Master  of  Storton,  who  was  leaning 
easily  against  the  mantelpiece  of  the  breakfast- 

"  It  may  be  awkward.  Sahib,  if  some  people 
find  it." 

Brentwood  smiled. 

"  The  worst  of  it  is,  I  have  lost  it  outside  some- 
where. I  had  it  in  the  pocket  of  my  shooting 
jacket  on  the  morning  I  first  went  to  the  priory, 
and  it  is  not  there  now.  I  know  for  certain  that  I 
did  not  take  it  out  when  I  returned  home." 

"  You  have  the  original,  Sahib." 

"  True  ;  but  what  I  am  concerned  about  is,  that 
whoever  happens  to  find  it  may  take  it  to  the 
police,  who,  you  will  remember,  took  great  care  to 
have  copied  exact  impressions  of  the  footmarks 
that  were  found  beside  the  body  of  the  Rev. 
Henry  Thornton,  and,  as  we  only  too  well  know, 
they  are  the  same  1  " 

"  If  anyone  had  found  it,  you  would  most  pro- 
bably have  heard  something  before  now." 

"  That  seems  reasonable  enough.     Still,  I  wish  I 

had  it  safely  here." 



He  stood  thinking  for  a  time,  and  then,  dis- 
missing the  matter  from  his  mind  for  a  moment, 
said  : 

"  I  expect,  hke  me,  you  have  been  wondering 
how  this  evil  thing  got  over  here  ?  " 

The  Hindoo  folded  his  arms  and  shook  his  head 

"  What  concerns  me  more,"  he  replied,  "  is  that 
we  do  not  know  how  to  cope  with  it." 

"  I'm  afraid  it  baffles  me,"  returned  Brentwood. 
"  Has  it,  then,  exhausted  all  your  powers  ?  " 

"  No,  Sahib,  I  cannot  say  that,  because  a  man 
does  not  know  the  limit  of  his  power  until  it  is  really 
tested.     But  up  to  the  present  it  has  mj^stified  me." 

"  It  does  not  appear  to  correspond  in  principle 
to  anything  we  have  met,"  said  Brentwood  medi- 

"  If  I  speak  my  mind.  Sahib,  I  feel  that  this  evil 
thing  is  impervious  to  any  attack  by  man  from 
the  physical  plane." 

The  Master  of  Storton  looked  at  him  thought- 
fully, as  he  replied : 

"  If  that  is  true,  Agar  Halfi,  then  there  is  only 
one  possible  way  to  deal  with  it,  at  least  to  our 
knowledge,  and  that  is " 

"  With  an  almost  certain  risk  of  death,"  inter- 
rupted the  other. 

Brentwood  nodded  slowly,  then  remarked  : 

"  Well,  we  shall  see.  Now,  to  go  back  to  my 
original  question.  Why  should  it  be  here  where 
we  are  ?  Remember  that,  so  far  as  we  know,  you 
and  I  are  the  only  two  people  in  England  who  have 
met  with  it.    Has  it  followed  us  ?  " 

THE   POWER   OF  THE   MYSTIC      151 

"  I  do  not  know  about  that,  Sahib.  It  is  five 
years  and  more  since  we  encountered  the  hobgobUn 
in  Afghanistan,  and  surely  if  it  has  followed  us,  why 
did  it  not  do  so  immediately  ?  " 

"  That  argument  seems  reasonable  enough,  my 
friend,  but  it  does  not  necessarily  follow  that  it  is 

"  Your  Western  theory  of  astronomy  is  accepted 
because  it  is  the  most  reasonable,  but  it  does  not 
necessarily  follow  that  it  is  right." 

Brentwood  laughed  outright,  and  then  replied  : 

"  I  don't  think  your  analogy  is  quite  right.  Agar 
Halfi.  The  alternative  to  your  argument  is  not  a 
very  feasible  one,  whereas  in  my  case  it  is  quite  a 
probable  one.  The  thing  may  have  followed  us 
here  directly  we  came  !  " 

"  Then  why  has  it  not  manifested  before  ?  "  re- 
turned the  Oriental  quickly. 

"  That,  of  course,  is  the  natural  answer  to  my 
remark,"  rephed  Brentwood,  "  and  it  constitutes 
the  doubtful  point  in  my  theory.  However,  we 
shall  see  how  things  develop." 

Having  spoken,  the  Master  of  Storton  looked 
down  at  the  curb,  and  started  kicking  it  with  the 
toe  of  his  boot.     At  length  he  remarked  : 

"  Agar  Halfi,  why  don't  you  go  back  to  India 
and  found  a  school  of  your  own  ?  You  know 
very  well  that  you  have  control  of  a  force 
which,  so  far  as  you  are  aware,  no  one  else  but 
myself  possesses,  and  yet  you  are  content  to  stay 
here,  masquerading  as  the  chauffeur  of  a  well-to-do 

"  If  you  wish  your  servant  to  depart,  he  will  do 

152         AGAR   HALFI   THE  MYSTIC 

so.  Sahib,  but  otherwise  he  is  satisfied  to  stay  here 
for  the  present." 

"  Don't  misunderstand  me,"  returned  Brentwood 
quickly.  "  So  long  as  you  want  to  stay  with  me, 
you  know  you  can ;  I  am  honoured  by  your  pre- 
sence, and  I  do  not  wish  to  inquire  into  your 
reasons  for  so  doing.  But  life  is  short,  at  least  on 
this  plane,  and  I  sometimes  feel  that  you  are  wasting 
valuable  time." 

"  There  are  certain  things  which  I  have  got  to 
do,"  he  answered  slowly.  "  When  they  are  ac- 
comphshed,  perhaps  I  shall  go  back  to  my  own 
country.  But  for  the  time,  Sahib,  I  will  stay  with 

"  That  is  entirely  for  you  to  decide,"  replied 
Brentwood.     "  You  know  my  mind  on  the  matter." 

"  For  one  thing,"  went  on  Agar  Halfi,  "  you  are 
my  friend,  and  I  wish  to  be  near  you.  A  man  is 
not  dishonoured  because  he  serves  those  he  loves. 
Far  better  to  be  a  man's  lacquey  than  eat  the 
bread  of  idleness  in  his  house." 

The  Master  of  Storton's  face  softened  as  his  com- 
panion spoke,  and  there  was  a  warm  ring  in  his 
voice  as  he  said  : 

"  Your  high  devotion  belittles  me  {  it  is  greater 
than  any  white  man's  that  I  know.  Though  you  are 
the  only  one,  I  am  rich  in  friends." 

There  was  an  awkward  pause,  neither  man  having 
anything  to  say.  At  length  Brentwood  broke  the 
silence  by  asking  abruptly,  "  What  do  you  make  of 
this  ?  "  whereupon  he  produced  a  letter,  and  handed 
it  to  the  Hindoo. 

Agar  Halfi  read  it  with  an  expressionless  face. 

THE   POWER   OF   THE   MYSTIC      153 

"The  Vicarage, 

WoRLSTOKE,  Somerset, 

May  19—. 

"  Dear  Brentwood, — You  will  no  doubt  be  sur- 
prised to  hear  that  Hector  arrived  here  to-night 
about  7  o'clock,  and,  in  spite  of  all  efforts  to  the 
contrary,  will  not  leave  my  sister !  No  doubt  you 
will  be  relieved  to  hear  where  he  is,  and  perhaps  you 
will  send  for  him  in  the  morning. 

"  Yours  sincerely, 

*'  Philip  Alletson." 

"  I  will  fetch  him.  Sahib." 

"  Yes,  but  what  do  you  think  about  it  ?  " 

The  other  shrugged  his  shoulders. 

"  One  thing,"  continued  Brentwood — "  I  noticed 
that  he  seemed  to  take  a  great  fancy  to  Miss  Allet- 
son  the  first  time  they  met ;  but  beyond  that  I  fail 
to  understand  the  animal's  action." 

"  Dogs  are  particularly  susceptible  to  mental  and 
psychic  influences,"  returned  the  Oriental,  "  and  pro- 
bably something  in  the  lady  attracts  the  dog  to 
her.  It  is  doubtful  if  it  could  have  any  bearing 
on  the  mystery." 

"  Perhaps  not,  but  still  it  will  be  as  well  to  note 
what  takes  place  in  the  future.  You  see  more  of 
the  dog  than  I  do,  so  perhaps  you  will  watch  him." 

"  Very  good.  Sahib,  and  now  I  will  go  and  fetch 
him."  Saying  which,  he  saluted  in  soldier  fashion, 
and,  turning  on  his  heel,  went  through  the  doorway. 

The  Master  of  Storton  followed  him  with  his 
eyes  as  he  went  out,  and  there  was  a  strange  smile 
on  his  face  as  he  remarked  half  aloud  : 


"  Probably  the  most  highly  developed  mind  I 
have  ever  met,  and  undoubtedly  the  truest  man." 

As  Agar  Haiti  strode  along  the  road  to  the 
Vicarage,  his  mind  was  full  of  ominous  forebodings. 
He  felt  depressed,  and  his  Oriental  intelligence, 
which  interpreted  things  in  a  different  way  to  a 
European's,  warned  him  that  trouble  was  not  far 
away.  He  had  read  it  in  the  stars,  could  detect 
it  in  the  aura  around  him,  and,  indeed,  he  knew 
from  his  master's  horoscope  that  a  dangerous  period 
was  at  hand.  Probably  it  was  for  that  reason  he 
was  not  going  back  to  India  just  yet.  In  any  case, 
he  did  not  mean  to  leave  his  beloved  friend  at  a 
time  when  trouble  was  looming. 

It  was  not  for  nothing  that  the  evil  death  which 
he  had  once  faced  in  Afghanistan  had  come  to 
the  neighbourhood  of  Storton.  In  some  way  he 
gathered  that  it  must  have  some  connection  with 
what  happened  to  them  five  years  ago,  and  until 
the  mystery  was  cleared  up  he  would  remain. 

But  how  were  they  going  to  encounter  it  with 
success  ?  Ah,  that  was  another  matter,  for,  deeply 
as  he  was  learned  in  mystic  law,  he  felt  that  he  was 
powerless  to  overcome  this  horror  at  present. 

If  it  had  been  a  vampire,  a  werewolf,  or  any 
other  evil  thing  that  emanated  from  the  mahgnant 
rays  of  the  planet  Saturn,  he  could  have  dealt  with 
it,  for  his  knowledge  held  the  key  to  the  forces 
which  sprung  from  that  great  sphere  to  plague 
humanity.  If  it  had  been  an  elemental,  or  any  evil 
from  the  astral  plane,  governed  by  the  planet 
Uranus,  he  might  have  hoped  to  cope  with  it ; 
but  the  fire  charm  he  had  wrought  that  night, 

THE   POWER   OF   THE   MYSTIC       155 

five  years  ago,  had  not  availed,  except  to  ward  off 
death.  And  such  a  charm  as  he  had  fashioned  was, 
as  he  knew,  sufficient  to  neutrahse  any  astral  evil. 

Deep  down  in  his  mind,  he  was  conscious  that 
this  weird  thing  was  a  psychic  manifestation,  under 
the  rule  of  the  adverse  rays  of  Neptune,  the  forces 
from  which  star  were  now  slowly  beginning  to 
become  active  in  the  affairs  of  humanity.  Little 
was  known  of  the  power  of  its  rays,  except  that  the 
results  were  evil,  and,  although  the  occultists  were 
studying  it  closely,  so  slow  was  its  progress  through 
the  heavens,  that  years  must  elapse  before  its  effects 
could  be  understood  to  any  apparent  degree,  let 
alone  mastered. 

For  that  matter,  it  was  doubtful  if  there  were 
a  dozen  men  who  held  the  key  to  the  planet 
Uranus  and  the  astral  plane  !  So  what  could  he, 
a  simple  seeker  after  truth  in  the  mystic  arcana, 
hope  to  accomplish  against  the  forces  of  the  un- 
known psychic  plane  ?  It  were  doubtful  if  the 
powers  of  a  Mahatma  would  avail. 

And  yet,  as  he  walked  quickly  along,  this  strange 
man  resolved  that  he  woufd  combat  this  dread 
thing,  though  he  knew  it  would  be  at  the  risk  of 
his  Hfe.  And  the  unselfish  reason  that  caused  this 
resolution  was — 

Well,  that  is  Agar  Halfi's  secret  for  the  present. 

In  the  meantime,  he  had  reached  the  Vicarage. 
To  his  enquiry  for  the  Vicar,  Martha  said  that  the 
master  was  out,  but  that  Miss  Alletson  would  be 
pleased  to  see  him.  The  maid  showed  him  into 
the  drawing-room,  and  her  eyes  never  left  his  face 
once.    Besides  the  fact  that  the   Hindoo    was  a 


curiosity  to  be  stared  at,  the  presence  of  this 
dark-skinned  man  fascinated  Martha,  and  for  a 
space  she  stood  looking  at  him  as  though  glued  to 
the  carpet,  probably  wondering  whether  he  was  an 
ogre,  who  would  eat  her.  All  sorts  of  fearful  things 
flitted  through  her  rustic  mind.  Visions  of  knives, 
pistols,  and  implements  of  torture.  Meanwhile, 
Agar  Halfi,  who  had  taken  a  seat,  turned  his  eye 
toward  her,  as  she  stood  in  the  doorway.  That 
settled  Martha  ;  suppressing  a  *  shriek,  she  turned 
and  fled.  And,  as  she  confided  to  her  best  friend 
the  next  time  she  saw  her,  "  he  must  be  a  dreadful 
man,  his  eyes  looked  through  and  through  me,  and 
I'm  sure  he  knew  all  that  I  was  thinking  about." 

Constance  entered  the  room  just  after,  and  greeted 
her  visitor  with  a  pleasant  smile,  though  her  pale 
cheeks  and  hollow  eyes  bore  evidence  of  the  strain 
she  had  experienced  the  previous  evening. 

On  her  heels  followed  Hector,  who  no  sooner  saw 
the  Hindoo  than  he  stood  stock-still  and  looked  at 
him  dejectedly,  as  though  uncertain  what  to  do, 
while  his  tail  traversed  a  descending  arc. 

Agar  Halfi  considered  him  for  a  moment  grimly, 
then  in  his  deep  voice  he  exclaimed,  "  Come  here  !  " 

With  a  spiritless  look,  the  dog  went  over  to  him 
and  lay  down. 

Constance  could  not  help  laughing  as  she  re- 
membered her  brother's  futile  efforts  to  turn  him 
out  the  night  before,  and  compared  them  with  the 
simple  victory  that  Agar  Halfi  had  achieved. 

"  Until  you  came,  he  simply  would  not  leave  me, 
and  last  night  he  lay  on  the  mat  outside  my  bed- 
room door." 

THE   POWER   OF   THE   MYSTIC       157 

"  And  what  do  you  think  about  his  behaviour  ?  " 
asked  the  Hindoo  in  his  grave  way. 

Constance,  who  had  dropped  into  a  chair,  was 
talking  quite  easily  to  her  visitor,  whom  she  natu- 
rally treated  as  her  equal.  Further,  she  felt  quite 
comfortable,  and  sub-consciously  noticed  that  there 
was  not  present  any  of  that  instinctive  reserve 
which  intuitively  a  woman  is  aware  of  when  talking 
to  a  man  who  is  practically  a  stranger. 

A  smile  parted  her  lips,  showing  her  excellent 
teeth,  as  she  replied  : 

"  That  is  the  very  question  I  was  going  to  put 
to  you.  Still,  as  you  have  anticipated  my 
inquiry,  it  is  only  fair  that  I  should  answer  first. 
Frankly,  I  cannot  dismiss  the  matter  from  my  mind 
as  a  mere  trifle.  There  must  be  some  reason 
for  the  dog's  conduct.  When  first  we  met,  he 
seemed  to  take  an  extraordinary  hking  to  me, 
but  I  can  hardly  think  that  that  would  be  the 

"  It  rather  points  to  it,  Miss  Alletson." 

"  Can  you  suggest  any  other  reason  ?  " 

"  No,"  he  replied,  "  I  cannot,  yet  I  do  not  think 
that  what  you  have  intimated  will  explain  the  dog's 
strange  behaviour." 

"  Is  not  that  what  is  called  '  woman's  logic '  ?  " 
she  queried,  with  a  sparkle  in  her  eyes. 

Agar  Halfi  looked  steadily  at  her  as  he  answered  : 

"  I  submit  to  the  rebuke  contained  in  your  remark. 
Miss  Alletson — we  men  deserve  it.  But,  if  I  may 
say  so  without  arrogance,  I  would  answer  that  I 
know  emphatically  there  is  another  reason  for  the 
animal  coming  to  you,  but  what  it  is  I  am  at 


present  quite  ignorant.  Some  day  I  may  be  able 
to  tell  you." 

She  looked  at  him  in  genuine  surprise. 

"  Do  you  know,  that  what  we  called  an  educated 
white  man  would  blush  to  make  such  a  statement, 
Mr.  Agar  Halfi  ?  He  would  at  once  think  it  an 
insult  to  his  reason." 

"  And  yet  you  don't  think  so  !  "  interjected  the 

"  How  do  you  know  that  ?  "  she  asked  sharply. 

"  Simply  because  the  faculty  of  intuition  by  which 
I  was  enabled  to  make  the  statement  is  one  which 
is  well  developed  in  most  women,  but  in  few  men. 
The  general  life  of  a  woman  tends  to  its  growth, 
whereas  men  depend  almost  solely  upon  reason, 
and  thereby  lose  much  that  they  might  otherwise 

It  is  usually  by  the  combination  of  these  two 
faculties  that  genius  is  produced  ;  and  the  rareness 
of  genius  is  probably  caused  by  the  fact  that  reason 
and  intuition  cannot  dwell  together  in  what  is  called 
the  average  mind,  as  they  appear  to  contradict 
each  other,  though  in  reality  they  are  true  affini- 

"  I  have  never  heard  anyone  speak  as  you  have 
spoken,  Mr.  Agar  Halfi,  though  in  a  dim  sort  of  way 
I  have  had  similar  ideas  j  but  until  your  lucid  ex- 
planation it  has  not  been  clear  to  me.  Yes,  I  think 
I  entirely  agree  with  what  you  say.  Now,  why  don't 
women  develop  the  faculty  of  reason  ?  " 

"  They  are  doing  so  slowly,  in  the  same  way  that 
men  are  developing  the  faculty  of  intuition.  The 
difference  is  that  in  the  former  case,  the  lack  of 

THE   POWER   OF   THE   MYSTIC      159 

growth  is  due  to  centuries  of  suppression,  and  not 
until  men  realise  that  they  must  give  women  their 
freedom  will  the  growth  of  reason  fully  develop. 
But  before  that  time  comes,  women  will  no  doubt 
have  wrested  themselves  free  from  their  chains  by 
their  own  efforts.  On  the  other  hand,  the  growth 
of  intuition  in  men  is  to  some  extent  retarded  by 
the  fact  that  they  do  not  think  women  capable  of 
teaching  them  anj^hing  worth  knowing,  and  yet  it 
is  only  by  the  freedom  of  women  from  men's  yoke 
that  men  can  reach  their  own  full  development. 
They  have  clung  too  much  to  the  physical,  and 
practically  ignored  all  else." 

Constance  sat  in  silent  wonder,  listening  to  this 
strange  man  discourse  on  topics  in  a  manner  which 
she  thought  would  put  to  shame  many  of  the  so- 
called  educated  units  of  her  own  country,  and  she 
could  not  understand  how  it  was  that  he  should 
'be  merely  a  servant  in  an  Englishman's  household. 
Still,  that  was  not  her  business,  and,  after  all,  what 
did  it  matter  whether  a  man  was  a  servant  or  a 
master,  so  long  as  he  was  a  man  ?  But  that  mysti- 
fied her  ;  a  man  with  such  a  personality  and  of  such 
intelligence,  should  not  need  to  be  a  servant.  She 
did  not  understand  that  economic  conditions  of  hfe 
brought  about  queer  results. 

While  she  sat  thinking,  the  Hindoo  was  studying 
her  face.    At  last  he  remarked  : 

"  You  are  not  in  the  best  of  health,  Miss  Alletson ; 
have  you  had  a  shock  ?  " 

She  started  slightly  as  he  correctly  diagnosed  the 
cause  of  her  indisposition. 

"  Well,"  she  answered,  a  little  confused,  "  I  was 


rather  upset  last  night,  but  I  feel  better  now — " 
She  almost  added,  "  since  you  came  in,"  but  checked 
herself  in  time. 

As  if  he  understood.  Agar  Halfi  replied  simply  : 

"  You  will  feel  better  this  afternoon  !  " 

"  I  expect  I  shall  naturally,"  she  answered,  with 
a  suspicion  of  a  smile. 

"  I  do  not  mean  that,  lady.  I  say  that  practi- 
cally all  traces  of  your  indisposition  will  have 
vanished  before  three  o'clock." 

"  Indeed  !  "  she  queried. 

But  the  Hindoo  did  not  satisfy  her  by  responding 
to  her  question. 

Suddenly,  she  did  not  know  why,  and  had  not 
had  the  least  intention  of  doing  so,  she  found  herself 
relating  to  her  visitor  a  dream  she  experienced  the 
previous  evening. 

"  I  do  not  know  at  all  how  it  came  about,  Mr. 
Agar  Halfi,  but  suddenly  I  seemed  to  stand  in  a  wild 
rocky  region  in  a  strange  land,  and  there  before  me, 
standing  with  outstretched  hands,  was  a  man  of 
your  own  country.  His  dress  was  similar  to  that 
of  a  priest,  and  he  looked  at  me  with  a  stern  ex- 
pression of  warning.  In  his  left  hand  he  held  the 
number  15,  and  in  his  right  hand  a  cross.  I  suppose 
he  meant  to  convey  something  to  me,  but  I  do  not 
understand  symbols.  Do  you  know  anything  about 
them  ?     Somehow  I  feel  that  you  do." 

While  she  spoke,  the  Hindoo's  countenance  grew 
graver,  and  she  noted  with  alarm  that  he  seemed 

"  Why  did  you  tell  me  this  ?  "  he  asked  in  an 
unnatural  voice. 

THE   POWER   OF  THE   MYSTIC      i6i 

"  Really,"  she  replied,  a  little  distressed,  "  I  could 
not  say  ;  it  seemed  to  come  from  me  involuntarily. 
Is  it  an5^hing  serious  ?  " 

"  Yes,  it  is  serious.  Miss  Alletson,  but  please  do 
not  be  disturbed  at  what  I  am  going  to  say.  I 
will  interpret  your  dream.  A  fortnight  before  the 
disappearance  of  Mr.  Thornton,  your  brother's  pre- 
decessor, I  had  a  very  similar  dream,  the  only 
difference  being  that  instead  of  the  man  holding  in 
his  left  hand  the  number  15,  he  held  a  chart  of  the 
heavens,  and  in  his  right  hand  the  number  13 
instead  of  the  cross." 

She  looked  at  him  incredulously. 

"  Can  it  be  possible  ?  " 

He  smiled,  and  answered  : 

"  I  will  describe  the  man.  He  was  tall  and 
gaunt  with  a  long  grey  beard,  and  his  garments 
hung  loosely  over  him,  leaving  his  arms  almost 

"  That  is  almost  exactly  the  same,"  she  said 
excitedly.     "  Now  what  can  these  dreams  mean  ?  " 

"  I  will  interpret  them,"  he  answered  slowly. 

"  The  vision  was  of  a  holy  man,  who  went  forth 
to  exorcise,  and  was  killed  by  an  evil  similar  to  that 
which  is  now  present  in  this  district." 

Constance  felt  a  cold  shiver  pass  over  her. 

"  Now  in  my  dream,"  continued  the  Hindoo, 
"the  chart  he  held  in  his  left  hand  meant  the 
horoscope  of  Fate,  that  which  is  to  be.  The  num- 
ber 13  in  his  right  hand  is  the  symbol  of  death. 
Roughly  speaking,  Mr.  Thornton  was  killed  thirteen 
days  after  I  had  that  vision.  In  your  dream 
the  number  15   in  his  left  hand  is   the  symbol 



of  the  devil,  or  evil.  The  cross  in  the  right  hand 
means  that  the  evil  can  be  overcome  by  that 

Constance  trembled  in  spite  of  her  brave  efforts 
not  to  do  so,  and  her  lips  were  dry  and  white  as  she 
said  almost  in  a  whisper,  "  I  always  wear  a  gold 
cross,"  and  she  held  it  up  in  her  fingers  for  him 
to  see.  It  was  fastened  by  a  chain  of  the  same 
material,  which  hung  round  her  neck. 

"  Never  let  it  leave  your  body,"  he  said  wam- 
ingly.  "It  is  more  potent  than  many  people 

"  And  so  these  two  dreams  appear  to  be  con- 
nected with  the  tragedy  ?  " 

"  Yes,  there  does  not  seem  to  be  much  doubt 
about  that,"  he  returned. 

"  Don't  you  think  we  ought  to  meet  and  talk 
things  over  ?  "  she  asked. 

"  I  will  put  it  to  the  Sahib  when  I  return.  Miss 

"  Quite  so,"  she  retorted  ;  "  but  I  want  your  own 
opinion  as  well." 

"  I  do  not  know.  Miss  Alletson,"  he  said  gravely. 
"I  am  not  certain  how  things  will  turn  out. 
Really,  I  must  be  going ;  I  did  not  know  it  was  so 

Constance  looked  at  the  clock  and  exclaimed : 
"  Oh  !  how  time  flies.  Phihp  will  be  in  to  lunch 
any  minute  now.  Won't  you  stay  and  have  some 
with  us  ?  " 

"  I  feel  honoured  by  your  request.  Miss  Alletson, 
but  unfortunately  it  is  quite  impossible  for  me  to 

THE   POWER   OF  THE   MYSTIC      163 

"  Well,  another  time  I  shall  not  take  a 
refusal,  Mr.  Agar  Haiti,"  she  said  with  a  bright 

Calling  Hector  to  him,  the  Hindoo  took  his  de- 
parture, with  apologies  for  keeping  his  hostess  such 
a  long  period. 

"  Oh,  that  is  just  my  fault,"  she  answered.  "  I 
was  so  absorbed  in  what  we  were  talking  about, 
that  I  forgot  the  time." 

Agar  Haiti  had  barely  gone  five  minutes  before 
Philip  walked  in,  and  his  first  words  to  Constance 
were : 

"  Why,  you  look  ever  so  much  better  than  you 
did  when  I  went  out  this  morning." 

"  Yes,"  she  retorted.  "  If  a  flushed  face  through 
hurrying,  and  eyes  made  bright  with  excitement  go 
for  anything.  But  seriously,  Phihp,  I  do  feel  much 
better,  and  strangely  the  change  came  when  Mr. 
Agar  Halfi  called  for  Hector." 

"  Oh  !    Then  that  animal  has  gone  at  last  ?  " 

"  Yes ;  but  come  and  have  lunch,  I  am  sure  you 
must  be  hungry,  and  I  have  a  lot  to  tell  you." 

While  they  ate  she  related  what  had  happened 
during  the  morning,  and  she  seemed  so  very  inter- 
ested, that  Philip  wondered  for  a  moment  whether 
the  Hindoo  could  possibly  have  influenced  her.  But 
he  discarded  the  idea  almost  immediately,  he  knew 
his  sister  too  well. 

"It  is  rather  strange  that  Brentwood  should  not 
have  mentioned  the  coincidence  of  the  footprints 
before  this,"  he  remarked  coldly,  when  she  had 
finished.  "  It  is  a  week  since  we  found  poor 
Thornton's  body." 


"  That  is  what  I  cannot  understand,"  she  an- 

"  It  looks  rather  as  if  he  did  not  intend  to  tell 
us,  and  perhaps — very  probably,  his  man  has  made 
a  faux  pas  in  mentioning  the  matter  ?  " 

"  Do  you  really  think,  PhiHp,  that  Mr.  Brent- 
wood is  guilty  in  any  way  ?  " 

Philip  looked  at  her  steadily  as  he  replied  : 

"  Honestly,  I  don't.  I  cannot  think  such  a  man 
would  be  capable  of  such  a  crime.  What  is  your 
opinion — the  same  as  mine  ?  " 

"  No ! "  Alletson  stared,  while  Constance  reso- 
lutely looked  at  the  tablecloth. 

"What!"  he  exclaimed. 

She  lifted  some  crumbs  from  the  cloth  on  to  her 
plate  with  a  knife,  then  raising  her  eyes  and  looking 
straight  at  her  brother,  she  answered  firmly  : 

"  I  fully  believe  that  he  is  guilty  !  " 

"  You  beheve !  " 

"  Yes,  Philip,  and  I  will  tell  you  why." 

She  then  related  in  detail  what  occurred  during 
the  experiment  at  the  Manor.  Her  brother  listened 
rather  impatiently.  He  was  hurt  to  think  that  his 
sister  should  have  withheld  anything  from  him. 

"  And  is  that  what  you  were  going  to  tell  Mr. 
Shepperton  and  me  last  night  ?  " 

"  Yes,  Philip,  but  I  could  not.  Some  power  com- 
pelled me  to  keep  silent.  I  knew  that  something 
strange  and  uncanny  was  in  the  room,  close  by  me, 
and  I  could  not  command  my  voice." 

"  But  how  does  this  make  Brentwood  guilty, 
Constance  ?  " 

"  Can't  you  see,  PhiHp  ?    Don't  you  understand  ? 

THE   POWER   OF   THE   MYSTIC      165 

That  feeling  of  horror  I  suffered  and  that  dreadful 
something  I  felt  at  first  compelled  to  find  behind 
the  man's  eyes,  and  which  afterwards  I  knew  was 
seeking  me,  is  this  evil  which  has  killed  Mr. 
Thornton,  and  no  doubt  Elsie  Hobson.  To  be 
blunt,  it  is  Mr.  Brentwood,  it  is  he  who  is  the  evil." 

She  spoke  with  such  vehemence  that  her  brother 
sat  staring  at  her  dumbfounded  for  fully  a  minute 
after  she  had  finished.  Then  as  it  dawned  upon 
him  what  she  meant,  he  gave  vent  to  a  short  bitter 
laugh.  To  think  that  she,  his  sister,  should  appear 
to  be  so  fully  convinced  of  his  friend's  guilt,  when 
in  his  own  mind  he  had  no  doubt  about  his  inno- 
cence, was  irony. 

Suddenly  he  looked  at  her  intently,  and  said  in 
a  low  voice : 

"  And  last  night  when  you  went  to  the  window  ?  " 

"  Yes,  I  was  looking  toward  the  ruins  !  " 

"  And — and  when  you  put  your  hands  to  your 
ears  ?  " 

Her  voice  trembled  as  she  answered  : 

"  It  was  to  shut  out  that  awful  alluring  call, 
which  seemed  to  be  for  me  alone." 

The  Vicar  felt  a  shiver  pass  down  his  back,  as  he 
called  to  mind  his  own  experience. 

"  And  the  dog  ?  " 

Constance  shook  her  head.  "  I  don't  under- 
stand that  at  all." 

For  some  time  neither  spoke  a  word.  What  they 
had  been  discussing  seemed  even  there,  in  that 
cheerful  room  in  broad  daylight,  to  have  the  power 
to  cast  a  shadow  over  their  spirits. 

At  length  Phihp  asked  gently  : 


"  Why  did  you  not  tell  me  at  the  time  what  you 
suffered  during  that  experiment  ?  " 

"  Well,  Philip,  partly  because  I  did  not  want  to 
hurt  you  in  any  way,  unless  I  was  quite  sure  that 
there  was  something  wrong,  and  indeed  I  would 
not,  even  in  my  mind,  think  ill  of  any  one  without 
sufficient  cause.     But  now  I  feel  no  doubt  of  it." 

He  nodded  spiritlessly,  in  agreement  with  what 
she  had  said,  then  remarked  : 

"  And  partly  what  else  ?  " 

She  turned  her  head  away,  and  commenced  toying 
with  her  fingers,  and  he  saw  that  she  was  trembling 
just  a  little. 

"  Really,  Philip,  I'm  afraid  I  don't  know.  But 
there  was  something  else,  which  I  cannot  imder- 

He  looked  at  her  uneasily,  not  knowing  what  to 
think.  Her  attitude  was  so  unlike  her  real  self; 
she  was  usually  so  frank  and  brave.  Now  she 
seemed  all  to  pieces,  and  unnerved. 

"  Surely  it  was  not  because  you  were  afraid  to 
speak,  my  dear  girl  ?  "  he  asked  kindly. 

"  Oh  no,"  she  returned  quickly  ;  "  you  know  I'm 
not  like  that." 

"  Then  was  it — "  he  stopped  abruptly,  for,  with 
what  sounded  very  much  like  a  sob,  Constance  had 
risen  swiftly  and  left  the  room. 

The  Vicar  fell  back  in  his  chair  perplexed,  amazed, 
and  for  the  second  time  that  week  he  forgot  himself, 
and  exclaimed  : 

"  Good  Lord  !  " 



"  Please,  sir,  the  gentleman  says  he  has  an  ap- 
pointment with  you." 

Arthur  Shepperton  looked  keenly  at  the  pale, 
sharp  face  of  the  boy  who  addressed  him,  and  then 
stared  abstractedly  at  the  card  he  held  in  his 
fingers,  while  he  muttered  to  himself  :  "  One  hun- 
dred pounds  for  a  month  !  " 

He  mechanically  read  the  card,  which  was  as 
follows  : 

"  Herbert  Canning, 


and  then  added  to  himself :  "  Late  of  Scotland 

"  Ah  yes,  of  course ;  Baxter,  show  him  in,  please," 
and  he  turned  to  his  desk  to  finish  reading  through 
the  last  two  paragraphs  of  an  agreement. 

Scarcely  had  he  finished,  when  there  entered  a 
tall  gaunt  man,  whose  feet  seemed  so  big  that  they 
made  him  shamble  rather  than  walk.  Shepperton 
wished  him  good  morning,  and  invited  him  to  take 
a  seat. 

Mr.  Canning,  in  a  voice  absurdly  small  for  so  big 
a  man,  remarked  idly  that  the  weather  was  warm 
for  the  time  of  the  year,  and  abstracting  a  large 
coloured  handkerchief  from  a  huge  pocket,  pro- 
ceeded to  wipe  his  head  with  it. 



Shepperton  glanced  him  up  and  down  quickly, 
and  smiled  inwardly  at  the  deceptiveness  of  the 
man,  who  looked  too  clumsy  and  dull  for  any- 
thing. And  yet  he  had  the  reputation  of  being 
one  of  the  shrewdest  and,  when  necessary,  quickest 
men  in  action  that  had  ever  passed  through  the 

His  hair  was  dull  brown  and  of  the  thatchy  type ; 
no  parting  was  visible  in  it,  and,  with  his  ill-fitting 
clothes,  it  helped  to  make  him  appear  just  what  he 
was  not — ^stupid.  Like  his  feet,  his  hands  were 
huge,  but  close  inspection  revealed  supple,  mobile 
fingers,  which  indicated  strength,  as  indeed  did  his 
whole  appearance.  Shepperton,  although  five  feet 
nine  inches,  and  fairly  well-built,  felt  small  as  he 
looked  at  him. 

Mr.  Canning  was  quite  unconcerned  by  the  other's 
scrutiny,  in  fact  he  lazily  gazed  out  of  the  window 
during  the  process,  as  though  unconscious  of  it. 
All  at  once  he  turned  a  pair  of  piercing  grey  eyes 
on  his  scrutiniser,  and  said  abruptly  : 

"  Well,  do  I  suit  ?  " 

To  his  vexation,  Shepperton  started  in  his  chair, 
it  was  done  so  suddenly  and  neatly;  and  then  he 
smiled  sourly,  as  his  interlocutor  gave  vent  to  a 
short  dry  laugh. 

For  the  next  hour  they  conversed  without  pause. 
Then  Shepperton  rose,  and  with  a  look  of  some 
satisfaction  on  his  face,  started  to  walk  across  the 
room,  and  back  again,  in  a  spirited  way.  Leaning 
forward  over  the  back  of  his  chair,  and  grasping 
the  arms  of  it  with  his  hands,  he  said  : 

"  The  so-called  mystery  is  merely  a  bhnd  to  cover 


himself.  I  don't  think  there  is  a  word  of  truth  in 
it,  although  he  appears  to  have  very  neatly  got 
the  Vicar  and  his  sister  to  fall  into  the  trap. 
Still,  they  may  have  altered  their  minds  after 
what  I  told  them  the  other  day." 

"  And  what  is  this  Hindoo  like,  whom  you  men- 
tioned is  a  servant  of  this  man  ?  " 

"  Well,"  replied  Shepperton,  looking  at  the  ceil- 
ing, "  I  should  think  he  is  a  very  capable  villain, 
almost  as  clever  as  his  master.  He  possesses  what 
looks  like  hypnotic  power,  but  I  have  seen  so  little 
of  him  that  it  is  difficult  to  say ;  I  can  only  speak 
from  what  I  have  heard." 

"  And  all  the  trouble  seems  to  be  centred  round 
the  ruins  of  this  old  priory,  and  this  Mr.  Brentwood 
and  his  Eastern  servant  ?  " 

Shepperton  nodded. 

"  Though,"  continued  the  detective,  "  there  is  so 
far  no  evidence  against  them  except  the  photo- 
graph of  those  footprints  you  found,  which  as  far 
as  I  can  see  undoubtedly  belongs  to  him,  as  it  bears 
his  initials  at  the  back." 

Shepperton  nodded  again.  "  It  is  rather  thin,  I 
will  admit,  but  I  don't  think  you  will  be  disap- 
pointed, Mr.  Canning." 

"  The  sooner  I  see  those  ruins  the  better,"  re- 
marked the  other,  rising  and  stretching  himself  in- 
dolently. Then  sharply,  and  with  a  keen  look  : 
"  Can  you  meet  me  there  in  an  hour  ?  " 

Shepperton  shook  his  head.  "  Quite  impossible, 
business  won't  permit  it  this  morning." 

"  Very  well,  I  will  go  myself."  With  that  he 
turned  and  strode  toward  the  door. 


"  Half  a  minute,"  called  out  Shepperton.  "  What 
about  some  lodgings  ?  " 

"  Oh,  I  fixed  those  up  before  I  came  here.  My 
address  is  Mrs.  Brown,  Myrtle  Cottage,  about  a  mile 
outside  Worlstoke."  Then  without  saying  good 
morning  he  disappeared. 

Shepperton  watched  the  door  close  behind  him, 
and  stood  for  a  moment,  with  a  half  frown,  half 
laugh  on  his  face. 

"  What  an  extraordinary  individual ! "  he  mut- 
tered ;  "  and  he  costs  one  hundred  pounds  a 

The  next  moment  the  telephone  bell  rang,  and 
Shepperton  immediately  forgot  the  detective  in  the 
vicissitudes  of  business. 

It  was  eleven  o'clock  when  Mr.  Canning  left  the 
offices  of  Dalby  &  Co.  At  two  o'clock  he  was 
sitting  on  a  part  of  the  crumbled  wall  of  the  ruined 
chapel  in  the  priory,  idly  eating  bread  and  cheese 
with  a  clasp  knife  and,  incidentally,  earning  his 
salary.  Yet,  during  the  three  hours  that  had 
elapsed  since  he  departed  from  Shepperton,  he 
had  passed  a  busy  time.  By  twelve  he  had  been 
and  compared  his  employer's  photograph  of  the 
footprints  with  the  impressions  at  the  Westsea 
police  headquarters.  Half  an  hour  later  he  was 
drinking  ale  in  the  Worlstoke  village  hostel,  and  at 
one  o'clock  he  was  watching  an  Englishman  and  a 
Hindoo  drawing  strange  hieroglyphics  on  the  flag- 
stones of  the  chapel  floor  in  the  priory. 

While  he  ate,  he  thought.  Of  course,  the  two 
men  he  at  once  knew,  from  what  Shepperton  had 
told  him.    They  were  the  Master  of  Storton  and  his 


servant.  Agar  Halfi.  No  doubt  this  little  work  of 
art  was  part  of  their  game  to  throw  dust  in  other 
people's  eyes,  as  suggested  by  Mr.  Shepperton. 
But  Mr.  Herbert  Canning  did  not  jump  to  con- 
clusions, it  was  not  his  business. 

Still  munching  his  frugal  fare,  he  looked  all 
around  him  and,  as  far  as  he  could,  memorised  the 
place  for  future  guidance. 

Then  the  channel  of  his  thoughts  changed,  and 
he  repeated  slowly  : 

"  Vicar :  medium  height,  slight  stoop,  iron  grey 
hair,  kindly  face,  about  forty.  His  sister :  between 
twenty-five  and  thirty,  brown  wavy  hair,  good- 
looking,  neat  figure,  medium  height,  dark  blue 
eyes,  bright  and  pleasing.  Priory  haunted !  So 
much  for  half  a  pint  of  ale — good." 

Rising,  he  yawned,  and  brushing  the  crumbs 
carefully  from  his  coat,  leisurely  walked  down  to 
the  village,  and  depositing  himself  on  a  seat  on  the 
green,  dosed  pleasantly  under  the  influence  of  the 
warm  afternoon  sun. 

While  the  detective  slept,  the  unravelling  of  the 
mystery  upon  which  he  was  engaged  went  on  at 
headlong  pace,  thereby  saving  him  an  immense 
amount  of  time  and  labour,  also  his  employer's 
pocket ;  but  nothing  disturbed  his  dreams  to  tell 
him  so. 

Two  or  three  of  the  villagers  stopped  to  stare  at 
the  stranger  with  his  long  legs  crossed  over  each 
other,  and  his  hands  deep  in  his  trouser  pockets, 
and  even  the  Master  of  Storton  looked  at  him 
curiously  as  he  drove  past  in  his  motor-car  on  his 
way  to  the  Vicarage. 


"  Queer-looking  chap,"  he  thought,  as  he  pulled 
up  at  AUetson's  gate,  and  then  dismissed  him  from 
his  mind. 

"  I  should  like  to  see  Miss  Alletson  if  she  is  at 

"  Yes,  sir,"  said  Martha  importantly,  as  she 
pushed  back  a  piece  of  rebellious  yellow  hair  behind 
her  cap,  and  smoothed  down  her  neat  apron.  "  Miss 
Alletson  is  in ;  will  you  please  walk  into  the  dining- 
room  ?  " 

Constance  stopped  and  took  a  deep  breath  to 
compose  herself  before  she  went  in. 

Brentwood  rose  a  Uttle  awkwardly  as  she  entered, 
and  after  exchanging  greetings  there  was  an  un- 
comfortable pause.  The  Master  of  Storton  was 
disagreeably  aware  that  there  was  a  difference  since 
they  last  met,  and  just  for  a  moment  he  looked 
at  her  guiltily,  as  he  thought  that  the  cause  must 
be  what  had  happened  during  the  experiment  at 
the  Manor.  It  could  not  have  been  more  than 
momentary,  and  then  his  face  assumed  its  natural 
grave  and  stem  expression.  But  slight  as  the 
change  was,  it  did  not  escape  Constance's  quick 
eye,  and  simply  helped  to  confirm  her  belief  that 
he  was  the  culprit. 

As  he  stood  with  one  hand  on  the  mantelpiece 
and  the  other  in  the  pocket  of  his  motor-coat, 
she  could  not  help  seeing  that  he  was  handsome, 
even  noble-looking,  and  strong  as  was  her  feeling 
that  he  was  guilty,  deep  down  in  her  heart  she 
sincerely  wished  that  he  was  innocent. 

There  was  something  about  the  man  which 
appealed  to  her  as  no  other  man  had  ever  done. 


What  it  was  she  did  not  know,  and  she  put  it  down 
to  his  personal  magnetism. 

Still  she  had  a  part  to  play,  in  loyalty  to  Mr. 
Shepperton,  and  much  as  she  disliked  her  task, 
she  would  not  go  back  on  her  word. 

She  breathed  a  little  more  freely  as  his  voice, 
in  cold  level  tones,  broke  the  silence. 

"  I  was  sorry  to  hear  from  my  Hindoo  friend  of 
your  indisposition,  Miss  Alletson,  but  am  glad  to 
see  that  you  are  looking  pretty  well  now.  Can  I 
do  anything  for  you,  or  has  Dr.  Trestlewood  suc- 
cessfully dealt  with  your  case  ?  " 

"  I'm  practically  recovered  now,  Mr.  Brentwood. 
I  immediately  felt  a  change  after  Mr.  Agar  Halfi 
had  called;  his  presence  somehow  seemed  to  do 
me  a  lot  of  good." 

"  It  is  more  than  probable  that  he  may  have 
cured  you  without  saying  an5^hing  about  it,  Miss 
Alletson  j  he  has  the  power  to  do  so  !  " 

"  Really,"  she  rephed,  surprised.  "  An57way,  I 
am  much  better,  but  I  thank  you  for  calling  on 

"  Don't,  please,"  he  interrupted  a  little  harshly. 
"  The  truth  is  I  had  another  purpose  in  calling, 
which  I'm  afraid  is  a  selfish  one." 

He  paused,  and  she  looked  at  him  coldly,  then 
turned  her  eyes  to  the  window. 

Noticing  her  attitude,  he  hesitated  as  to  whether 
he  would  broach  the  subject  at  all.  However, 
having  come  over  particularly  to  speak  about  what 
happened  to  her  during  the  experiment  at  the 
Manor,  he  decided  that  it  would  be  folly  not  to 
clear  the  thing  up,  now  he  had  the  opportunity. 


"  I  hope  you  will  not  think  me  impertinent.  Miss 
Alletson,"  he  began  lamely.  She  sat  down  slowly, 
while  he  hesitated,  choosing  his  words.  She  knew 
at  once  what  he  was  going  to  say,  and  her  com- 
pressed lips  indicated  that  she  had  braced  herself 
for  an  unpleasant  interview.  She  felt  it  would  be 
a  trial  for  her. 

Then  he  came  abruptly  to  the  point. 

"  During  the  experiment  that  was  held  at  my 
house,  you  experienced  something  which,  according 
to  the  known  laws  of  hypnotism,  should  not  have 
occurred.    Is  not  that  so  ?  " 

"  Yes." 

His  dark  eyes  hardened  a  little  at  her  tone,  which 
plainly  indicated  that  the  subject  was  distasteful. 
The  strong  fighting  nature  of  the  man  instinctively 
rose  to  the  surface  at  the  idea  of  resistance ;  to 
overcome  obstacles  was  one  of  the  charms  of  his 
life.  But  he  just  as  suddenly  remembered  that  she 
was  a  lady,  and  his  breeding  forced  back  the  primi- 
tive impulse. 

He  was  not  a  courtier,  however,  and  his  next 
words  were  blunt  and  to  the  point : 

"  If  you  would  rather  not  discuss  this  matter,  I 
will  withdraw  at  once." 

Constance  took  a  deep  breath,  and  rising  from 
her  chair  faced  him  squarely,  as  she  replied  : 

"  If  you  are  in  earnest,  I  shall  be  only  too  glad  to 
tell  you  all  about  it !  " 

"  In  earnest  ?  "  he  echoed,  and  his  face  grew  cold 
and  hard. 

"  Yes,  Mr.  Brentwood,  if  you  are  in  earnest," 
she  replied  in  a  suppressed  voice.    Her  blue  eyes, 


defiant  and  hostile,  met  his  brown  ones,  cold  and 
unemotional,  and  for  a  time  her  will  fought  his. 
She  felt  he  was  playing  with  her  and  was  angry ; 
but  she  might  as  well  have  pitted  herself  against  a 
rock,  and  gradually  she  gave  way. 

"  I  am  certainly  in  earnest,"  he  said  slowly  and 
deliberately,  and  although  his  voice  was  icy,  his 
manner  was  perfectly  courteous. 

Constance  sat  down  again,  fully  expecting  him  to 
ask  her  why  she  had  asked  such  a  question ;  but 
in  that  she  was  disappointed,  for  he  remained 
standing  in  frigid  silence. 

"  Well,  I  will  tell  you,"  and  she  related  in  detail 
what  she  had  experienced.  All  the  time  she  was 
speaking,  she  watched  his  face  closely,  but  could 
not  read  a  sign  from  his  set  features. 

When  she  had  finished,  he  thanked  her  and 
said  : 

"  May  I  tell  you  what  has  subsequently  transpired 
in  this  connection  ?  " 

"  Certainly,  if  you  wish." 

"  Well,  it  troubled  me.  Miss  Alletson,  so  I  decided 
to  test  the  thing.  I  went  straight  to  Mr.  Agar 
Halfi,  who,  as  you  will  know,  is  experienced  in  these 
matters,  with  the  intention  of  putting  him  into  the 
sleep,  so  as  to  see  what  impression  it  made  on  him. 
But  he  was  not  in  ;  he  had  not  returned  from  driving 
you  and  your  brother  home.  While  waiting — I 
knew  he  would  not  be  long  away— it  occurred  to 
me  that  I  might  as  well  experiment  on  the  dog ; 
so  I  did.  All  went  well  until  the  sleep  was  practi- 
cally in  evidence,  and  then  he  exhibited  similar 
symptoms  to  what  you  did." 


"  And  what  happened  ?  "  interrupted  Constance, 
who  had  become  unconsciously  interested. 

"  Well,  he  broke  away  from  my  influence,  and  for 
a  moment  I  lost  control.  In  that  instant  he  suddenly 
made  as  if  to  attack  me  ;  but  I  recovered  myself 
quickly  and  stopped  him." 

"  He  might  have  hurt  you,"  she  said  slowly. 

"  Hurt  me  !  "  he  replied  with  an  amused  laugh. 
"  He  would  undoubtedly  have  killed  me.  I  was 
not  armed  in  any  way,  and  no  man  could  stand 
the  attack  of  a  dog  hke  Hector." 

She  started  involuntarily. 

"  Just  then,"  he  continued,  "  Agar  Halfi  came  in, 
and  I  told  him  all  about  it.  Then  I  experimented 
on  him,  fully  expecting  the  same  symptoms,  but 
to  my  surprise  it  passed  off  quite  normally.  After 
that.  Agar  Halfi  put  the  dog  to  sleep  without  the 
least  difficulty."     He  paused,  then  added  : 

"  You  see.  Miss  Alletson,  the  matter  is  also  an 
uncomfortable  one  from  my  standpoint." 

Constance  tapped  the  table  with  her  fingers.  She 
hardly  knew  what  to  think,  he  spoke  so  sincerely. 
And  yet  all  the  time  he  had  been  in  the  room  she 
had  been  conscious  of  something  about  him  that 
made  her  cold  and  shivery,  as  though  he  were  some 
dreadful  thing,  dressed  up  for  the  time  being  in  the 
shape  of  a  gentleman.  She  shuddered,  but  con- 
trolling herself  with  an  effort,  remarked  quietly  : 

"  You  had  the  same  results  with  the  dog  as  you 
had  with  me.  What  has  been  the  effect  on  the 
dog  ?  " 

"  Why,  he  will  not  come  near  me  !  " 

"  And  yet  he  came  voluntarily  to  me  1 " 


He  stared  at  her  meditatively,  then  suddenly 
seemed  to  realise  something.  The  thought  had  no 
sooner  entered  his  head  than  he  bluntly  asked  : 

"  Has  it  had  the  same  effect  on  you  as  it  had  on 
the  dog  ?  " 

She  inclined  her  head. 

He  drew  in  his  breath  slowly,  and  as  he  did  so  he 
seemed  to  realise  something  else. 

"  Can  it  be  that  you  suspect  me  ?  "  he  asked  in  an 
unnatural  voice. 

But  Constance  had  turned  her  face  so  that  he 
could  not  read  it,  and  she  sat  perfectly  silent. 

He  opened  his  mouth  as  if  to  speak  again,  and 
then  pride  altered  his  mind.  Grasping  his  hat,  he 
strode  quickly  from  the  room,  and  a  minute  later 
Constance  half-consciously  heard  his  car  drive  away, 
while  she  traced  patterns  on  the  table  with  her 
finger.  For  several  minutes  she  sat  thus,  as  though 
in  a  dream,  and  then  something  warm  and  moist 
falling  on  her  hand  roused  her,  and  with  a  low  cry, 
as  though  she  were  suffering,  she  rose  and  swiftly 
left  the  room. 




When  Mr.  Canning  awoke  from  his  siesta  it  was 
nearly  four  o'clock,  but  he  did  not  rise  immediately. 
After  getting  his  eyes  accustomed  to  the  light,  he 
drew  from  one  of  his  many  pockets  a  prophetic 
almanac !  Yes,  it  is  true,  even  detectives  have 
their  little  weaknesses.  It  was  for  the  current  year, 
and  bore  on  the  title-page  the  word  "  Raphael "  in 
large  letters. 

Turning  to  the  month  of  February,  he  looked  at 
the  2ist  day,  and  his  eyes  grew  interested  as  he 
noticed  that  it  was  "  Full  Moon."  He  next  turned 
to  the  4th  of  April  and  read  "  New  Moon."  Again 
he  turned  to  the  19th  of  April,  and  this  time  it  was 
"  Full  Moon."  He  then  thought  what  day  of  the 
month  it  was,  and  turning  to  it,  read  "  3rd  of  May, 
New  Moon." 

There  was  a  momentary  tightening  of  his  thin 

lips,  and,  dropping  the  almanac  on  his  knees,  he 

exclaimed  under  his  breath,  "  Holy  Moses  !  "    He 

looked  up  at  the  blue  sky,  and  began  to  whistle 

a  plaintive  air.    When  he  had  nearly  finished,  he 

made  a  false  note,  and  stopped  abruptly,  evidently 

annoyed.     "  I'm  always  going  wrong  just  there," 

he  muttered.     Recommencing,  he  went  through  it 

again.     Satisfied,  he  put  the  almanac  in  his  pocket, 

remarking  to  himself  :    "  And  but  for  this  little 



hobby  of  mine,  I  would  not  have  known  it  was 

queer  that  I  should  start  on  this  particular  job  on 

the  3rd  of  May  !  " 
He  then  mentally  tabulated  the  following  points  : 
{a)  Rev.  Henry  Thornton   disappeared   21st   of 

February,  when  the  moon  was  at  the  full. 

(b)  Miss  Elsie  Hobson  disappeared  4th  of  April, 
at  the  time  of  the  new  moon. 

(c)  Rev.  Philip  AUetson  had  a  strange  experience 
19th  of  April,  when  the  moon  was  at  the  full. 

All  the  outstanding  incidents  in  this  case  occurred 
at  the  time  of  the  new  and  full  moon.  Therefore, 
he  argued,  such  incidents  are  likely  to  occur  again 
at  the  time  of  the  new  and  full  moon. 

Now  to-day,  3rd  of  May,  it  was  new  moon  !  He 
paused  in  his  reflections,  and  abstracting  a  large 
red  handkerchief,  blew  his  nose  so  loudly  that 
it  startled  into  wakefulness  old  WiUiam  Watkins, 
the  pensioned-off  village  policeman,  who  was  just 
nodding  off  to  sleep  on  a  seat  not  many  yards 

The  glare  that  WiUiam  gave  him  from  beneath 
his  shaggy  eyebrows,  as  he  leaned  in  a  choleric 
manner  on  his  ash  stick,  was  sufficient  to  slay  a 
dozen  detectives  if  looks  could  kill,  but  fortunately 
Mr.  Canning  was  not  conscious  of  it,  for  at  that 
moment  he  was  slowly  returning  the  handkerchief 
to  his  pocket.  As  he  jammed  it  down  as  far  as  it 
would  go,  he  remarked  to  himself  : 

"  No  doubt,  Herbert  Canning,  you  will  have  a 
nice  entertainment  if  you  visit  the  priory  to-night. 
Yes,  you  had  better  go,  there  is  no  charge  for 


Rising,  he  started  off  in  the  direction  of  Myrtle 
Cottage,  and  remarked  in  a  cheerful  voice  as  he 
passed  the  old  gentleman  that  it  was  a  pleasant 
afternoon.  The  adding  of  this  insult  to  the 
already  administered  injury,  did  not  tend  to  pacify 
Mr.  Watkins,  who  between  his  chokes  of  indig- 
nation spluttered  something  which  was  certainly 
not  comphmentary  ;  but  by  that  time  the  tall 
stranger  had  passed  out  of  earshot. 

Arriving  at  his  apartments,  the  detective  re- 
quested Mrs.  Brown  to  get  him  a  substantial  meal 
by  a  quarter  to  six.  Then,  much  to  that  lady's 
annoyance  and  surprise,  he  went  and  had  a  good 
wash  in  the  kitchen,  of  course,  just  when  she  wanted 
to  use  the  sink,  and  dried  himself  on  the  roller  towel 
on  the  door  ! 

"  Lor'  bless  the  man  !  "  she  said  to  herself  irri- 
tably, "as  if  he  couldn't  have  done  it  upstairs, 
where  I  have  put  everything  to  his  hand."  And 
if  it  had  not  been  that  her  lodger  had  paid  her 
fifty  per  cent,  more  than  she  usually  obtained,  and 
half  of  it  in  advance  too,  it  is  probable  that  she 
would  have  questioned  his  "  bringings-up." 

When  Mr.  Canning  reached  the  ruins,  it  would 
have  been  difficult  to  recognise  Mrs.  Brown's  lodger, 
for  a  black  wig,  moustache,  and  beard  disguised  his 
features.  It  was  just  seven  o'clock,  and  the  hght 
was  beginning  to  fade.  Avoiding  the  door  in  the 
wall,  he  made  a  detour  to  the  south,  and  scaling 
the  wall  about  two  hundred  yards  further  on, 
dropped  into  that  part  of  the  grounds  which  must 
have  been  at  one  time  a  garden.  Crossing  it  to 
the  west,  he  climbed  the  opposite  wall,  and  then. 


turning  abruptly  north,  travelled  along  the  outside 
of  it  until  he  arrived  at  the  east  end  of  the 

Having  satisfied  himself  that  no  one  was  about, 
he  stood  for  a  time,  taking  in  details.  To  his 
mind,  this  was  very  necessary,  as  he  expected  the 
place  would  play  a  prominent  part  in  the  case  he 
had  under  investigation. 

The  day  had  been  exceptionally  warm  for  the 
time  of  year,  and  now,  in  the  gathering  twilight, 
as  the  air  grew  colder,  a  soft  white  mist  began  to 
steal  up  from  the  ground.  He  watched  it  absently, 
his  thoughts  being  occupied  setthng  Httle  points  in 
his  plan  of  action.  His  train  of  thought,  however, 
was  disturbed  by  his  noticing  that  the  mist  was 
particularly  thick  at  the  west  end  of  the  chapel, 
by  the  ruined  doorway.  That  in  itself  was  not  of 
much  account,  but  as  he  looked,  it  appeared  to  glow 
with  a  white  luminous  Hght.  He  closed  his  eyes 
for  a  few  seconds,  in  order  to  make  sure  that  it  was 
not  an  optical  illusion,  and  when  he  looked  again 
it  had  gone.  He  smiled  to  himself — experience  had 
taught  him  that  if  one  looks  long  enough  at  an 
object,  a  band  of  hght  will  appear  around  it.  He 
had  known  people  sitting  for  clairvoyance  delude 
themselves  in  that  way,  by  thinking  they  could 
see  the  astral  lights. 

The  darkness  was  now  rapidly  gathering,  causing 
the  outhnes  of  the  ruins  to  fast  disappear,  and  as 
it  closed  around  him,  Mr.  Canning  could  not  help 
feeling  a  httle  uncomfortable.  Further,  the  peculiar 
silence  of  the  place  made  him  sharply  conscious ;  and 
once  or  twice  he  smiled  grimly,  as  the  idea  would 


come  into  his  head  that  someone  was  behind  him. 
He  had  been  in  a  graveyard  at  midnight,  for  a  wager, 
years  ago,  and  he  recalled  the  fact  to  mind  that  he 
did  not  feel  at  all  uncomfortable  ;  and  yet,  stand- 
ing here,  he  could  not  say  the  same.  There  was  a 
something  which  seemed  to  have  got  into  his  blood, 
and  was  trying  to  undermine  his  courage.  To  a 
less  self-reliant  man,  that  intimation  would  have 
been  sufficient,  he  would  have  cleared  out ;  but 
Mr.  Canning  was  there  on  business,  and  the  more 
the  feeling  grew,  the  more  he  mentally  gripped 
himself  with  the  determination  of  his  rugged  per- 
sonality. Whatever  was  there,  it  would  have  to 
fight  him. 

Just  then  his  attention  was  again  drawn  to  the 
mist  at  the  other  end  of  the  chapel,  and  this  time 
he  was  bound  to  admit  even  to  himself  that  the 
luminous  glow  was  a  fact.  Moreover,  he  was  aware 
that  it  was  undergoing  some  sort  of  an  evolution. 
Slowly,  it  began  to  expand,  and — ^he  could  hardly 
believe  his  own  eyes — out  of  it  the  shadowy  form 
of  a  human  being  appeared. 

It  could  not  have  taken  more  than  half  a  minute, 
and  he  had  only  just  time  to  take  a  mental  note 
of  the  vision,  when  it  suddenly  disappeared,  leaving 
a  dull  blackness. 

He  drew  a  deep  breath,  and  his  hand  was 
wandering  mechanically  to  his  hip-pocket  for  his 
revolver,  when  a  deep  voice  whispered  almost  in 
his  ear : 

"  If  you  value  your  Hfe,  come  with  me  !  " 

That  he  was  startled  goes  without  saying,  but  he 
gave  no  sign,  except  that  his  teeth  shut  with  a 


vicious  snap.  No  detective  likes  to  be  caught 
napping.  He  did  not  even  turn  round  to  see  who 
had  spoken  to  him ;  instead,  he  coolly  remarked, 
as  if  he  were  quite  aware  of  another's  presence  : 

"  And  the  danger  ?  " 

"  Will  be  apparent  before  very  long,"  answered 
the  voice. 

Canning  now  turned  easily,  to  meet  the  tall  figure 
of  a  Hindoo,  whom  he  could  just  see  in  the  twi- 
light ;  and  his  quick  brain  at  once  put  him  down 
to  be  the  body  servant  of  the  Master  of  Storton,  in 
which  surmise  he  was  right. 

Agar  Halfi  looked  at  him  with  a  faint  glitter  of 
interest  in  his  eyes.  This  was  no  ordinary  man, 
who  did  not  even  jump  when  an  unexpected  voice 
spoke  in  his  ear.  And  what  was  he  doing  in  the 
priory  at  that  time  ?     Sunset ! 

On  his  part.  Canning  was  thinking  that  he  had 
not  made  a  mistake,  he  had  expected  the  Hindoo. 
So  far  so  good,  but  where  was  his  master  ?  K  only 
he  had  known,  that  was  just  what  Agar  Halfi 
wanted  to  know  ! 

While  these  thoughts  ran  quickly  through  his 
mind,  he  was  mechanically  taking  stock  of  the 
Oriental,  and  he  came  to  the  conclusion  that  he 
was  not  altogether  what  he  appeared  to  be.  There 
was  something  about  his  presence  not  possessed  by 
the  average  man,  which  commanded  respect,  and 
as  he  came  to  this  conclusion,  Mr.  Canning's  inte- 
rest in  this  mysterious  affair  began  to  grow.  There 
was  probably  more  in  it  than  appeared  on  the 
surface.  Still,  he  could  ponder  over  such  things 
another  time,  now  he  must  act. 

i84         AGAR  HALFI   THE   MYSTIC 

In  a  leisurely  voice  he  asked  : 

"  If  I  choose  to  stay,  my  friend,  what — 

"  You  will  die,"  was  the  abrupt  answer. 

The  detective  laughed  easily,  as  he  replied  : 

"  I  only  have  your  word  for  that.  Perhaps  you 
will  inform  me  what  I  have  to  fear,  and  then " 

As  if  in  direct  reply  to  his  question,  a  long,  low, 
plaintive  cry  broke  on  the  still  air,  ending  in  a 
hideous,  mocking  laugh,  half  screech,  which  made 
his  blood  turn  cold. 

Never  before  in  all  his  years  had  he  ever  heard 
anything  to  equal  it,  and  he  had  vigorously  to  use  his 
will  in  order  to  control  himself.  During  the  silence 
which  followed,  he  stared  hard  at  his  companion, 
who  did  not  seem  to  be  in  any  way  disturbed. 

Agar  Hadfi  ended  the  tension  by  remarking  in  a 
low  voice  : 

"  Come,  there  is  no  time  to  lose." 

The  detective  followed  him  automatically,  as 
though  he  had  not  complete  command  of  himself, 
and  silently  and  quickly  the  Hindoo  made  for  the 
door  in  the  wall.  They  had  barely  got  outside  it, 
when  once  more  that  unearthly  cry  smote  their 
ears.  They  both  stopped,  as  if  compelled  to 
listen,  and  Canning  felt  it  penetrate  into  every 
fibre  of  his  body.  He  must  have  stood  thus  for 
nearly  half  a  minute,  like  one  under  a  spell, 
hardly  breathing,  and  with  his  arms  hanging  limp 
at  his  sides.  Then  with  a  great  effort  he  mastered 
himself,  and  his  natural  fighting  instincts  began 
to  rise. 

Simultaneously  it  struck  him  as  very  curious  that 
the  other  man  did  not  seem  to  be  affected,  which  at 


once  led  him  to  a  conclusion.  It  was  a  ruse  !  The 
Hindoo  and  his  master  wanted  to  get  him  out  of 
the  priory,  he  was  in  their  way. 

He  cursed  under  his  breath  at  not  having  thought 
of  it  before,  and  then,  just  as  Agar  Halii  was  again 
moving,  he  exclaimed  in  a  steely  voice  : 


The  Hindoo  turned  quickly,  to  find  himself  facing 
the  muzzle  of  a  revolver,  but  beyond  raising  his 
eyebrows  with  a  surprised  expression,  he  did  not 

"  Tell  me,"  said  the  detective  in  a  tranquil 
manner,  "  who  is  the  owner  of  that  beastly 
voice  ?  "  and  he  shivered  slightly  as  he  thought 
of  it. 

Agar  Halfi's  eyes  glinted  dangerously,  as  he 
answered  contemptuously  :   "  Are  you  mad  ?  " 

"  No,  the  madness,  if  any,  is  on  your  part.  Once 
more,  tell  me  who  is  in  that  place  ?  " 

A  startled  look  came  into  the  Oriental's  eyes,  as 
he  rephed : 

"  Look  behind  you  !  " 

Canning  laughed  sardonically. 

"  Rubbish,  my  friend,  I'm  not  to  be  caught 
with  schoolboy  tricks." 

"  Look,  I  say,"  persisted  the  other. 

For  reply,  the  detective  strode  up  to  the  Hindoo, 
and,  going  behind  him,  looked  over  his  shoulder  in 
the  direction  indicated.  Then,  for  one  of  the  very 
few  times  in  his  life,  he  felt  afraid. 

Framed  in  the  doorway  in  the  wall  were  two 
eyes  that  gazed  at  him  malignantly.  But 
such    orbs ;    he    had    never   seen    anything    like 

i86         AGAR   HALFI   THE   MYSTIC 

them  before,  nor  in  all  probability  would  again. 
In  colour  they  were  of  a  pale  reddish  hue,  and 
they  glowered  with  the  cruellest  expression 

Fascinated  with  fear,  he  returned  that  dreadful 
stare,  with  all  the  loathing  and  hate  in  his  body, 
and  then,  he  knew  not  how  or  why,  he  felt  he 
was  slowly  being  drawn  toward  the  doorway 
against  his  will.  He  fought  with  all  his 
strength,  but  imavailingly.  Three  steps  he  took 
in  that  direction,  and  then  Agar  Halfi's  arm  barred 
the  way. 

"  No  further,  on  your  life !  "  he  said  in  a  low 
stem  voice. 

Canning's  first  impulse  was  one  of  fury  at  the 
Hindoo's  obstruction,  and  he  was  Just  going  to 
attempt  to  force  his  way  past  the  impeding  arm, 
when  his  eyes  met  those  of  the  other  man,  and 
under  the  influence  of  that  calm,  steady  gaze  his 
rage  died  down,  and  he  practically  returned  to  his 
normal  state. 

Simultaneously,  those  terrible  eyes  blazed  luridly 
with  helHsh  rage,  and  once  again  that  awful  cry 
rang  out,  this  time  dying  away  in  a  chuckle  of 
baffled  fury. 

On  an  impulse,  the  detective  raised  his  revolver, 
and  fired — once,  twice,  and  as  the  smoke  cleared 
away,  he  exclaimed  in  an  unsteady  voice  : 

"  By  heaven  !  if  there  is  anything  there  flesh  and 
blood,  I've  hit  it ;  I  could  not  very  well  miss  at 
this  distance.  Let's  go  and  see,"  and  he  started  off 
to  the  doorway,  followed  by  Agar  Halfi,  who  re- 
mained silent.     But  not  a  sign  of  anything  could 



hey  find,  and  Canning  looked  perplexed ;  he  could 
not  understand,  and  went  over  the  ground  again 
and  again  with  his  electric  torch.  At  last  his  com- 
panion remarked  grimly : 

"  Come,  you  can  do  no  good  now.  It  is  not 
flesh  and  blood  that  you  have  been  combating." 

For  a  moment  the  other  stood  in  thought,  and 
then,  without  a  word  he  followed  the  Hindoo  down 
the  drive,  out  into  the  road.  Here  Agar  Halfi 
stopped,  and  waving  his  arm  in  the  direction  of  the 
village,  said  curtly : 

"  My  way  is  this." 

"  And  mine,"  answered  Canning  deHberately, 
pointing  in  the  opposite  direction,  "  is  that." 

Without  another  word,  the  Hindoo  turned  on  his 
heel  and  started  oU  on  his  way.  For  a  moment 
the  other  man  stared  at  him  interestedly,  and  then 
suddenly  he  went  after  the  receding  figure,  and 
overtaking  the  man  before  he  had  gone  a  hundred 
yards,  said  : 

"  I've  forgotten  something,  my  friend." 

Agar  Halfi  turned  questioningly,  and  as  they 
faced  each  other,  the  detective  continued  : 

"  You  probably  saved  my  hfe  just  now,"  and 
held  out  his  hand. 

A  smile  came  over  the  Oriental's  dark  face,  as 
he  grasped  the  other's  fingers. 

"  It  is  nothing,"  he  answered  quietly.  "  Some  day 
you  may  save  mine  ;  who  knows  ?  " 

"  Ah  !  one  never  knows,"  replied  Canning.  "  If 
ever  I  can — "  But  Agar  Halfi  had  disappeared  in 
the  darkness,  and  the  rest  of  the  sentence  remained 


For  a  time  the  detective  stood  thinking,  and  then 
with  a  sigh  he  discarded  his  disguise,  and  carefully 
put  the  different  articles  into  his  pockets.  Then, 
whistling  softly  to  himself,  he  slowly  made  his  way 
to  Myrtle  Cottage. 



With  rapid  strides,  Agar  Halfi  made  his  way  to  the 
Manor.  As  he  walked,  he  thought  long  and  seri- 
ously ;  forgotten  for  the  time  was  his  queer  meeting 
in  the  priory  with  the  stranger.  That  no  doubt 
he  would  recall  later  on,  but  at  the  moment  some- 
thing of  far  greater  importance  occupied  his  mind. 

The  phenomenon  he  had  seen  when  standing 
behind  the  other  man  in  the  ruins,  had  probably 
given  him  a  key  with  which  he  would  be  able  to 
unlock  the  mystery  which  had  been  baffling  them 
so  long. 

Reaching  the  Manor,  he  went  straight  to  Brent- 
wood's study,  but  found  the  door  of  the  bed- 
room which  led  to  it,  locked,  and  the  place  in 
darkness.  He  listened  for  a  while,  but  no  sound 
reached  his  ear,  so  descending,  he  inquired  of  Mrs. 
Breton,  the  housekeeper,  if  the  master  was  in. 

That  lady  was  busy  checking  accounts  in  her 

sitting-room.    She   raised  her  sharp  grey  eyes  in 

surprise  at  the  Hindoo's  question ;   it  was  so  very 

imusual  for  him  to  inquire  after  Mr.  Brentwood ; 

generally  he  knew  all  his  movements,  in  fact,  if  any 

of  the  household  wanted  to  know  the  master's 

whereabouts,  they  always  went  to  Agar  Halfi  to 

find  out. 

"  Well,"  she  said,  "  the  master  went  out  at  half- 

X90         AGAR  HALFI   THE  MYSTIC 

past  six,  and  left  word  that  he  wotild  not  be  home 
tin  ]ate,  and  that  I  was  not  to  prepare  anything 
for  him." 

"  I  suppose  you  have  no  idea  where  he  went  ?  " 

"  Not  the  shg^itest.  AH  I  know  is,  that  he  was 
dressed  as  if  be  were  going  to  walk." 

The  Hindoo  stared  at  a  picture  on  the  wall  oppo- 
site, while  he  thonght,  and  Mrs.  Breton  tnmed  her 
attention  to  the  cohunn  of  figures  she  had  beoi 
adding,  when  intermpted  by  her  visitor.  She 
checked  it  again  carefnOy,  and,  satisfied  that  it  was 
correct,  tamed  her  bead  inqtiiringly. 

Sbe  looked  at  the  dark,  stem  i^ice  with  a  wry 
expKseaoa,  In  spite  of  her  fifty  years,  grey  hair, 
and  loDg  s^vice  at  the  Manor,  she  had  never  bem 
aUe  to  quite  nnderstand  the  rtdationship  that 
existed  between  ha  master  and  his  Eastern  servant. 
Tbey  woe  more  friends  than  anything  else,  and  as 
sbe  knew,  spent  much  of  their  time  together. 

Still,  being  a  practical  woman,  she  had  not 
allowed  that  to  trooUe  her,  thongh  she  was  well 
aware  that  other  membeis  of  the  household  were 
very  jealoos  ol  the  Hindoo,  But  Agar  Halfi  had 
never  in  any  way  interfered  with  her,  indeed,  had 
always  shown  her  the  utmost  courtesy,  and  the 
fact  tbat  be  bad  liberties  which  otbos  did  not 
possess,  was,  a&a  all,  Mr,  Brentwood's  bostnew, 

"  Did  be  leave  any  instmctioiis  forme?" 

**  Not  a  wcvd,"  she  answered  qnicldy. 

He  nodded  solemnly,  and  after  a  few  casual  re- 
marks, departed  to  bis  lodge.  Pasnng  tbrou^  the 
Imog  foom,  be  went  upstairs  to  bis  irieqpiQg  a^rt- 
nwDt,  and  taking  a  key  from  bis  pocket,  opened  the 


door  of  an  inner  room,  the  threshold  of  which  none 
hat  he  and  the  lifaster  of  Storton  had  evei-  crossed. 

It  lay  east  and  west,  with  a  window  cm  either 
side;  and  was  the  chamber  wherein  the  Hindoo 
piaictised  the  oocalt  arts.  Bat  it  was  as  imhke  the 
general  idea  of  a  magician's  sanctum  as  coald  be 
imagined.  The  floor  was  polished  with  beeswax* 
and  in  the  centre  was  covered  by  an  Indian  carpet 
about  three  feet  square.  The  north  and  south  walls 
wane  draped  from  ceiling  to  floor  with  dark  tapes- 
try, that  on  the  south  wall  being  divided  \d)ae  it 
covered  the  door  which  gave  c^mmunicaticaa  to  the 
bedroom,  and  the  windows  were  heavnly  curtained 
with  the  san-^e  mateciaL  On  each  side  of  the  west 
window  was  a  fantastic  cabinet,  on  eithta-  side  the 
east  window,  a  copper  hraaaea",  supported  on  a 
tripod,  lender  the  west  window  was  tbe  onfy 
sitting  aoooaiinodati<^n  the  room  contained,  in  the 
shape  of  a  looig,  low  settee ;  while  under  the  east 
wiwlQiW  stood  a  oarioosly  inlaid  Indian  tahie,  whidi 
Ind  on  it  a  large  cross  of  pure  gc^. 

Carefully  closing  the  door  behind  him,  A^ar  HaM 
switdied  on  the  electric  !^t,  and  drew  the  coitains 
across  the  windows.  The  electT<^ier  which  gave 
%-ht  to  the  room  was  ^xtd  in  the  ceiling,  and 
cjovwed  by  an  opaque  bowt  This  bad  the  dSedt  of 
throwing  the  rays  upward,  thus  imparting  .^  soft, 
daur,  and  e\'«n  light  to  the  whole  of  the  room. 

For  a  moiment  he  stood  besatatai^.  Where  was 
the  Sahib  ?  That  was  whiit  he  did  not  know,  bat 
was  determined  to  find  out.  One  way  he  knew  of 
seemed  pretty  certain  to  bro^  abovil  the  desaied 
result,  but  he  was  not  sure  that  it  woes  wee  to 


take  it.  At  last  he  passed  back  into  the  bedroom, 
and  in  a  few  minutes  appeared  clothed  in  a  white 
robe  which  covered  him  from  head  to  foot.  Going 
to  the  cabinet  on  the  right-hand  side  of  the  win- 
dow, he  took  therefrom  a  pair  of  balances  and  a 
large  metal  jar.  Out  of  the  latter  he  took  some 
reddish-brown  powder,  which  he  carefully  weighed. 
That  done,  he  put  the  balances  and  the  jar  back 
into  the  cabinet,  not  forgetting  to  lock  it.  Then, 
taking  one  of  the  copper  braziers  from  its  stand, 
he  put  it  on  the  carpet,  and  kneeling  down,  began 
to  chant  in  a  low  voice,  with  his  hands  held  palms 
downward  over  the  vessel.  For  several  minutes  he 
continued  thus,  and  then  there  suddenly  shot  out 
of  the  brazier  a  thin,  transparent  flame.  Picking 
up  the  powder  which  was  by  his  side,  the  Hindoo 
emptied  it  into  the  vessel,  and  there  issued  forth  a 
dense  smoke  which  gradually  filled  the  room.  When 
it  had  dispersed,  he  was  lying  motionless,  stretched 
full  length  on  the  carpet,  his  hands  folded  on  his 
chest,  a  look  of  calm  sleep  on  his  dark,  finely- 
moulded  features. 

For  nearly  three  hours  he  remained  in  this  state, 
and  it  wanted  but  a  quarter  of  an  hour  to  mid- 
night when  he  regained  external  consciousness. 
Opening  his  eyes,  he  raised  himself  to  a  sitting 
position  and  listened.  It  was  raining,  he  could 
hear  the  drops  beating  on  the  windows ;  and  a 
night  wind  had  risen,  whicii  moaned  fitfully  round 
the  house.  He  rose  slowly,  walked  a  few  steps, 
then  stood  listening  again.  This  time  it  was  a 
doleful  whimpering  by  the  door.  He  went  and 
opened  it,  and  Hector  fawned  at  his  feet. 


Agar  Halfi  looked  at  the  dog  with  a  smile,  then 
patted  his  great  head. 

"  Ah,  my  friend,  you  can  come  with  me." 

Hector  wagged  his  tail,  as  though  imderstanding. 

"  Now  lie  down,  while  I  dress." 

Obedient  to  the  Hindoo's  voice,  the  animal  crept 
under  a  chair,  and  lay  watching  the  man,  who, 
with  a  frown  on  his  brow,  mechanically  put  on  his 
everyday  gajments.  He  had  not  been  successful 
in  his  experiment ;  no  trace  could  he  find  of  the 
Master  of  Storton.  The  failure  to  do  so  perplexed 
him.  Try  as  he  would,  there  always  seemed  to  be 
something  which  was  just  too  strong  for  him  to 

He  had  a  growing  conviction  that  Brentwood 
was  in  some  way  involved  in  this  mystery,  yet  there 
was  no  tangible  clue  upon  which  he  could  act. 

"  Ah  !  "  he  muttered,  "it  is  Fate."  Then,  with 
a  quick  movement,  he  went  and  unlocked  one  of 
the  drawers  in  the  left-hand  cabinet  in  the  inner 
room,  and  took  from  it  two  keys  on  a  ring. 
They  were  dupUcates  of  those  which  belonged  to 
Brentwood's  bedroom  and  study.  Donning  an 
ulster,  he  beckoned  to  the  dog,  and  went  down- 
stairs. Passing  out  of  the  lodge,  he  quietly  closed 
the  sitting-room  door  behind  him  and  made  his 
way  to  a  private  entrance  into  the  Manor,  to  which 
only  the  Master  of  Storton  and  he  had  access. 
Opening  the  door,  he  caUed  Hector  after  him,  and 
together  they  ascended  a  narrow  stairway  which  led 
straight  to  the  top  of  the  building.  At  the  end  of 
the  staircase  was  another  door,  which  the  Hindoo 
opened,  and  they  emerged  on  to  the  landing  of  the 



general  stairway  of  the  house.  Directly  opposite 
was  the  door  of  Brentwood's  bedroom.  Silently 
Agar  Hal&  turned  the  handle,  and  was  satisfied  to 
find  it  locked.  He  listened  intently,  but  no  sound 
fell  on  his  ear  except  the  falling  of  the  rain  and 
the  mournful  wail  of  the  wind.  Just  then  a  great 
clock  in  the  lower  haU  chimed  twelve.  He  smiled 
oddly  as  he  thought  of  the  time,  and  without  more 
ado  unlocked  the  bedroom  door,  Hector  close  at  his 
heels,  and  switched  on  the  light. 

One  glance  showed  him  that  the  room  was  empty, 
though  the  bed  gave  every  appearance  of  having 
been  used.  Silently  closing  the  door,  he  without 
hesitation  chmbed  the  short  stairway  to  the  Tower 
study,  unlocked  that  door,  and  again  switched  on 
the  hght.  Here  also,  he  met  with  a  similar  result, 
the  room  was  vacant. 

He  looked  keenly  around,  but  everything  ap- 
peared to  be  in  order,  even  to  the  west  window, 
which  was  always  kept  partly  open.  Then  some- 
thing happened  which  roused  his  curiosity.  Hector, 
whom  he  had  momentarily  forgotten,  growled 
somewhere  behind  him.  Turning,  he  saw  the  dog 
in  the  doorway,  with  hair  bristling  and  muzzle 
drawn  up,  looking  with  wrathful  eyes  apparently 
at  nothing  ! 

"  Quiet !  "  he  said  in  a  low,  determined  voice. 
Then  he  called  him  softly,  but  instead  of  taking 
heed,  the  animal  started  to  back,  slowly,  in  the 
same  manner  that  a  cat  will  when  its  gaze  is  held, 
his  great  eyes  fixed  on  the  east  window.  Instinc- 
tively the  Hindoo  looked  in  that  direction,  and  for 
the  first  time  he  noticed  that  the  window  was  open. 


A  frown  appeared  on  his  face  ;  he  felt  quite  sure  it 
was  shut  when  he  first  looked  round  the  room, 
though  he  could  not  have  sworn  to  it  for  a  certainty. 
Still,  that  would  not  be  the  cause  of  the  dog  acting 
in  this  manner.  Walking  over  to  the  casement,  he 
looked  out  into  the  night  and  listened  intently ; 
but  only  the  sound  of  the  elements  and  the  rusthng 
of  the  trees  came  to  his  ear. 

Then  he  thought  of  the  empty  bed!  Where 
was  the  Sahib  ?  That  was  the  dominating  thought 
in  his  mind.  It  was  fairly  clear  that  if,  as  Mrs. 
Breton  said,  the  Master  of  Storton  had  gone 
out  at  half-past  six,  he  had  returned,  gone  to 
bed,  and  gone  out  again  !  The  fact  that  the  bed 
had  evidently  been  slept  in  pointed  to  that.  But 
such  a  procedure  was  incomprehensible. 

Turning  from  the  window,  he  looked  at  Hector, 
who  was  lying  just  outside  the  door  with  watchful 
eyes,  his  muzzle  on  his  huge  paws.  For  a  time  he 
eyed  him  grimly,  then  with  a  deep,  sonorous  laugh, 
switched  off  the  hght  and  went  out,  carefully  lock- 
ing both  doors  after  him.  Calling  the  dog,  he  drew 
from  his  pocket  an  electric  torch,  and  went  and  made 
sure  that  every  entrance  to  the  Manor,  except  the 
private  way  by  which  he  had  gone  in,  was  bolted 
as  well  as  locked.  Satisfied,  he  went  out  the  way 
he  had  entered,  commanded  the  dog  to  lie  down 
outside  the  door,  and  walked  quickly  back  to  the 
lodge.  There  he  got  some  tacks,  a  piece  of  thread, 
and  a  small  hammer.  Returning,  he  fixed  one  tack 
on  the  doorpost  and  another  on  the  door,  then 
deftly  twined  the  piece  of  thread  around  them. 
That  done,  he  called  Hector  and  again  returned  to' 


his  lodge.  Locking  himself  in,  he  sent  Hector  to 
his  comer  underneath  the  cupboard  in  the  sitting- 
room,  and  making  a  pillow  of  his  ulster  on  the 
hearthrug,  lay  down  and  slept. 

He  was  awakened  by  a  low,  fierce  growl.  In  an 
instant  he  was  on  his  feet,  fully  alert.  Hector  also 
was  standing,  looking  savagely  at  the  window,  and 
Agar  Halfi  noticed  that  his  attitude  was  similar  to 
that  which  he  had  exhibited  on  the  threshold  of 
the  study  a  few  hours  ago. 

He  had  the  door  open  in  a  twinkling,  but  not  a 
visible  sign  of  anything  was  there  which  could  have 
caused  the  dog  to  show  irritation.  It  was  strange, 
the  animal  would  not  act  in  that  manner  without 
sufficient  cause. 

He  noticed  that  the  dawn  was  breaking,  cold  and 
misty.  With  a  shiver,  he  went  and  put  on  his 
ulster.  When  he  returned,  it  struck  him  that  the 
mist  looked  particularly  thick  and  dirty  in  one 
place,  about  a  yard  from  the  ground.  As  he  looked 
he  thought  it  moved,  quite  distinctly,  from  the 
general  mass.  Further  inspection  confirmed  this ; 
it  was  travelling  rapidly  away  from  him,  and  in  the 
direction  of  the  Manor.  He  followed  it  curiously 
with  his  eyes,  until  it  seemed  to  stop  under  the 
east  wall.  He  noticed  now  that  it  had  a  faint 
green  tinge,  and  all  at  once  he  became  deeply  inter- 
ested. Gradually  it  rose,  higher  and  ever  higher, 
until  it  must  have  been  on  a  level  with  the  Tower. 
Then  suddenly  it  vanished,  and  in  its  place,  the 
Hindoo  found  himself  staring  at  the  open  east 
window  of  Brentwood's  study.  He  gave  a  low 
exclamation ;  it  looked  just  as  if  that  particularly 


thick  portion  of  the  mist  had  entered  the  window  ! 
He  had,  however,  hardly  recovered  from  his  sur- 
prise when  he  stopped  dead,  with  astonished  eyes 
and  clenched  hands.  For  a  moment  he  thought 
he  must  be  dreaming,  but  as  he  continued  to  stare, 
he  realised  that  it  was  no  vision. 

Standing  at  the  open  window  of  the  tower  study 
in  his  pyjamas  was  the  Master  of  Storton,  gazing 
with  lack-lustre  eyes  at  the  sunrise.  His  hands 
gripped  the  casement  on  either  side,  and  his  bronzed 
handsome  face,  now  ghastly  in  hue,  was  distorted 
with  a  look  of  intense  suffering.  Gradually  the 
drawn  features  relaxed,  a  faint  tinge  of  colour  came 
into  the  cheeks,  and  slowly,  so  slowly  that  it  seemed 
ages,  the  light  crept  into  his  eyes,  and  Brent- 
wood's face  resumed  its  normal  expression.  Then 
Agar  Halfi  saw  him  shiver  violently  and  start  back 
suddenly ;  the  next  moment  the  window  was  closed. 

For  fully  a  minute  the  Hindoo  stood  as  though 
entranced.  Then  he  suddenly  remembered  the 
thread  on  the  private  door.  Without  more  ado, 
he  crossed  the  intervening  ground — ^he  was  barely 
a  hundred  yards  away — and  dropping  on  his  knees, 
examined  the  thread  which  he  had  overnight  fixed 
across  the  entrance.  One  glance  was  sufficient  to 
show  him  that  it  was  intact ! 

He  rose  from  the  ground  with  a  curious  smile, 
and  folding  his  arms,  nodded  to  Hector,  who  was 
standing  disconsolately  by,  and  said  sardonically  : 

"  Yes,  beast,  the  Gods  have  set  Agar  Halfi  a 
pretty  problem  to  unravel.  Twice  over  shall  he 
repay  the  debt  he  owes  to  his  beloved  friend,  if 
not  more ! " 


Hector  slowly  wagged  his  tail  at  being  thus  ad- 
dressed, and  looked  up  at  the  Hindoo  with  solemn 

"And  what  part  are  you  going  to  take  in  the 
drama,  stupid  ?  " 

The  dog,  encouraged  by  the  man's  voice,  came 
close  to  him,  and  put  his  muzzle  in  his  hand. 

Agar  Halfi  looked  at  him  with  a  quiet  melan- 
choly, and  then  stood  for  a  time  lost  in  thought, 
while  the  dog  remained  motionless,  as  though  shar- 
ing his  friend's  mood. 

At  last  the  Hindoo  roused  himself,  and  drew  in 
a  deep  breath. 

"  Come,  soulless  one,  let's  find  a  fire  and  some 



When  Canning  arrived  at  Myrtle  Cottage  after 
his  visit  to  the  priory  ruins,  he  opened  the  gate 
as  though  to  pass  in  ■  then  suddenly  shut  it  again, 
and  retracing  his  steps  down  the  road,  went  to 
the  post  office,  where  he  sent  off  a  telegram  in 
cypher.  That  done,  he  made  his  the  village 
hostel,  and  sat  there  till  nearly  closing  time,  talk- 
ing to  the  rustics. 

About  ten  minutes  to  ten  he  took  his  departure, 
and  went  to  Shepperton's  rooms.  Arthur  Shep- 
perton  was  eating  his  supper,  so  he  invited  the 
detective  to  join  him,  which  he  did  to  the  ex- 
tent of  a  crust  of  bread  and  cheese  and  a  glass 
of  ale. 

Canning  was  silent  for  a  time,  and  the  young 
soUcitor  looked  at  him  curiously,  but  did  not  dis- 
turb his  meditations.  At  length  the  detective  re- 
lated what  he  had  experienced  an  hour  or  two  ago, 
omitting  nothing. 

Shepperton  listened  eagerly,  and  when  he  had 
fmished,  remarked  : 

"  Well,  what  do  you  think  now ;  am  I  not 
right  ?  " 

But  the  other  shook  his  head. 

"  What  I  "  exclaimed  his  host. 

"  I  don't  know  yet ;  it  is  a  queer  case." 


Shepperton  looked  disappointed,  and  relapsed  into 
silence.    At  last  he  said  : 

"It  is  a  pity  that  black  villain  saw  you — ^he  will 
know  you  again." 

By  way  of  reply.  Canning  drew  forth  his  disguise, 
and  putting  it  on  the  table,  exclaimed  : 

"  I  don't  think  so." 

"  Ah,  that's  a  good  thing,"  said  Shepperton  in  a 
reheved  voice.  Then  he  laughed,  as  he  thought  of 
the  detective's  ingenuity. 

"  Has  it  occurred  to  you  that  you  were  unable  to 
find  Miss  Hobson's  trail  ?  " 

Shepperton  eyed  him  doubtfully  as  he  rephed  : 

"  Well,  what  of  it  ?  " 

Canning  shook  his  head  with  a  smile,  then  clear- 
ing his  throat,  remarked : 

"  It  entered  my  mind  to-night,  as  I  was  coming 
back  from  the  priory,  that  it  ought  to  be  possible, 
with  the  glove  you  have  in  your  possession,  to  find 
her  dead  or  alive." 

"  We  did  try,  as  you  know." 

"  Yes,  but  you  discovered  something  else,  and 
since  then,  I  understand,  no  other  effort  has  been 

"  No,  that  is  true,"  said  Shepperton,  "  What 
have  you  in  your  mind  ?  " 

"  Well,  I  think  we  ought  to  follow  it  up,"  answered 

"Very  well,  if  you  think  it  at  all  likely, 
I  have  no  objection.  I'm  willing  to  do  any- 
thing that  may  help  to  clear  the  thing  up.  What 
do  you  propose  to  do?  use  Brentwood's  dog 
again  ?  " 

THE   ABBESS  201 

"  No,"  answered  the  detective  sharply.  "  I  have 
telegraphed  to  London  for  one  of  my  own  dogs,  and 
it  should  be  here  to-morrow  evening,  Thursday 
morning  latest." 

Whatever  misgiving  (if  any)  Shepperton  might 
have  had  about  the  detective,  he  could  not  help 
appreciating  the  promptness  with  which  he  acted, 
when  once  he  came  to  a  conclusion. 

"  Excellent,"  he  rephed.  "  Let  it  be  Thursday 
morning.     I  will  meet  you  at  the  priory  at " 

"  Nine  o'clock,"  interjected  Canning. 

For  about  half  an  hour  they  sat  talking,  and  then, 
with  a  yawn,  the  detective  rose,  saying  : 

"  I  think  I  will  get ;  I  can  do  with  an  hour  or 
two's  sleep." 

"  Right,"  answered  his  host.  "  By  the  way,  what 
do  you  propose  doing  to-morrow  ?  " 

"  Well,  I  am  a  little  uncertain  as  yet.  Do  you 
want  me  for  anything  in  particular  ?  " 

"  No,"  said  the  other  indifferently. 

"  Very  well,  Mr.  Shepperton,  I  will  meet  you  at 
nine  o'clock,  Thursday  morning." 

With  this  remark  Canning  went,  and  return- 
ing to  his  rooms,  sought  his  bed.  There  for  a 
time  he  lay,  thinking  that  although  he  had  cracked 
many  a  hard  nut,  this  one  looked  like  proving  to 
be  not  only  the  hardest,  but  the  queerest  case  he 
had  ever  come  across. 

At  half-past  nine  on  the  Thursday  morning, 
Shepperton  and  Canning  stood  in  the  ruined  priory, 
looking  at  each  other ;  the  former  with  a  perplexed 
expression,  the  latter  with  a  wry  smile. 

Twice  had  they  given  the  dog  the  scent,  and 


twice  had  he  done  exactly  the  same  as  Hector  had 
done  some  days  ago. 

"It  is  very  extraordinary,"  said  Shepperton,  in 
puzzled  tones,  "  but  it  seems  to  me  to  be  right." 

Canning  shook  his  head  as  he  replied  : 

"  It  is  against  all  reason,  my  friend.  There  must 
be  crossed  trails." 

"  Well,  it  beats  me,"  returned  Shepperton ;  "  what 
do  you  say  ?  " 

The  detective  shrugged  his  shoulders,  as  much  as 
to  say  that  it  was  not  his  business  to  let  an5d;hing 
beat  him.    Then  moving,  he  said  : 

"  Come,  let  us  try  some  other  spot." 

"  Where  ?  " 

"  Anywhere  round  about."  Saying  which.  Can- 
ning started  the  dog  at  various  points.  The  other 
watched  him  make  one  or  two  fruitless  efforts, 
then  sat  down  on  a  piece  of  rock  in  an  indifferent 
manner.  He  had  practically  lost  hope  in  the  ven- 
ture. But  the  detective,  in  his  dogged  manner, 
went  quietly  about  his  work,  first  here,  then  there, 
and  gradually  got  further  away. 

"  Seems  to  me  he  might  as  well  search  for  the 
proverbial  needle,"  mused  Shepperton,  and,  tired 
of  watching,  he  turned  his  attention  to  the  ruins. 
He  may  have  sat  there  for  five  minutes,  when  he 
was  attracted  by  a  hail  from  his  companion.  With 
a  yawn,  he  rose  and  sauntered  over  to  him ;  and 
at  once  his  interest  returned,  as  he  looked  at  the 
detective's  face. 

"  What  is  it  ?  "  he  said  quickly. 

Canning,  who  was  standing  about  a  hundred 
yards  from  their  original  starting-place,  beckoned 

THE   ABBESS  203 

the  other  to  follow  him,  and  together  they  forced 
their  way  through  some  bushes  for  a  few  yards. 
Here  Canning  stopped,  and  pointing  to  the  ground 
said : 

"  What  do  you  make  of  that  ?  " 

Shepperton  looked  eagerly,  then  shook  his  head. 

"  I  don't  see  anything,"  he  exclaimed. 

"  Well,"  rephed  the  detective,  "  there  is — or- 
more  correctly  speaking,  was — a  path  here.  If  you 
will  look  closely,  you  will  just  see  faint  traces  of  it. 
Now  watch  the  dog  !  " 

Straining  at  his  leash,  the  animal  made  his  way 
through  the  tangled  undergrowth,  until  they  came 
out  upon  the  path  which  led  to  the  north  entrance. 
Here  they  stopped  to  take  breath. 

"  What  do  you  make  of  it  ?  "  asked  Shepperton 

"  I  think  we  may  make  a  discovery,"  answered 
the  other  coolly.     "  Now,  let's  get  on." 

For  fully  an  hour  they  made  steady  progress,  the 
hound  leading  them  along  various  roads  until  they 
came  to  a  brook  running  across  a  lane,  and  here 
the  dog  seemed  to  be  baffled.  They  halted  un- 
certainly ;  at  last  the  detective  said  : 

"  We  must  cross  the  water." 

They  did  so,  and  to  Shepperton's  relief,  the  dog 
immediately  took  up  the  scent  again,  and  they  went 
on  for  nearly  another  hour. 

"  Are  you  sure  we  are  not  following  a  will-o'- 
the-wisp  ?  " 

Canning  smiled  as  he  repHed  : 

"  There  is  not  much  fear  of  that.  The  dog  is  fol- 
lowing something  tangible,  you  can  depend  upon  it." 


All  at  once  a  sharp  turning  brought  them  in  view 
of  a  long,  low  house  which  lay  back  from  the  main 
road  several  yards,  and  was  partly  hidden  by  trees. 
For  this  place  the  dog  made  a  straight  course. 

Shepperton  lifted  the  latch  of  the  outer  gate 
with  nervous  fingers,  and  they  passed  through  into 
a  drive  which  led  to  the  main  entrance. 

"  What  place  is  this  ?  "  queried  Canning  abruptly. 

"  It  is  known  as  the  *  Chalet,'  and  is  occupied,  I 
believe,  by  some  refugee  nuns  from  France.  Beyond 
that,  I  don't  think  anybody  here  could  enlighten 

"  Well,  we  will  soon  find  out,"  replied  the  de- 
tective, whereupon  he  rang  the  bell  in  a  business- 
like manner.  A  clang  somewhere  at  the  rear  of  the 
premises  followed,  and  shortly  after  the  door  was 
slowly  opened  part  of  the  way,  by  an  elderly  woman 
in  the  garb  of  a  nun.  She  cast  suspicious  eyes  at 
the  men,  and  then  seeing  the  dog,  quickly  pushed 
the  door  until  it  remained  open  only  about  six 
inches.  The  two  inquirers  looked  at  each  other, 
and  laughed. 

"  You  had  better  ask  to  see  the  Lady  Superior, 
or  whoever  is  in  charge,"  suggested  the  detective. 
Shepperton  nodded  his  acquiescence,  and  approach- 
ing the  door,  handed  in  his  card,  saying  : 

"  Will  you  convey  my  apologies  to  the  Lady 
Superior,  and  tell  her  that  I  should  very  much  like 
to  see  her  on  a  most  important  matter  ?  " 

By  way  of  answer,  the  woman  stretched  her  arm 
through  the  door,  gingerly  took  the  bit  of  ivory, 
and  disappeared.  However,  they  were  not  left 
standing  long  in  suspense.     She  shortly  returned 

THE   ABBESS  205 

and  said  with  a  pronounced  French  accent  that 
her  ladyship  would  see  Mr.  Shepperton  if  his  busi- 
ness were  important.  Then  she  opened  the  door 
sufficiently  to  let  him  pass  through,  all  the  while 
keeping  a  nervous  eye  on  the  dog,  which  Canning 
was  holding  back  by  its  leash. 

She  conducted  Shepperton  to  a  sort  of  ante-room, 
which,  though  devoid  of  furniture  with  the  exception 
of  a  few  plain  chairs  and  a  long,  low  oak  chest,  was 
spotlessly  clean,  while  the  bare  boards  were  pohshed 
to  such  an  extent  that  he  felt  some  compunction 
about  walking  on  them  with  his  heavy  boots.  But  he 
hardly  had  time  to  think  about  that — ^he  had  indeed 
scarcely  sat  down,  when  her  ladyship  appeared, 
bringing  with  her  a  faint  suggestion  of  perfume. 

Shepperton  rose  immediately  and  bowed.  She 
acknowledged  the  bow  with  a  gentle  inclination  of 
her  head,  then  raising  her  eyes  stood  waiting  for  him 
to  speak.  For  several  moments  the  man  stood  in 
silence.  There  was  something  about  the  woman's 
face  which  made  him  feel  ashamed  of  his  sex.  Never 
before  had  he  seen  such  a  beautifully  spiritual 

Barely  forty,  H61oise  Limonaire,  daughter  of 
the  Vicomte  d'Angiers,  still  retained  some  of  that 
physical  beauty  with  which  nature  had  endowed 
her,  and  which  had  in  part  caused  her  to  take  the 
veil  twenty  years  ago.  Time,  however,  and  the 
strict  rules  of  a  convent  life  had  emaciated  her  figure, 
though  her  face  had  gained  in  sweetness  ;  and  that 
strange  fire,  which  only  comes  to  those  who  conquer 
the  flesh,  shone  with  a  pure  light  from  her  deep 
brown  eyes.    Driven  from  her  native  country,  she 


had  sought  a  refuge  in  that  land  to  which  all  refugees 
fly,  and  for  two  years  she  had  lived  quietly  in  this 
old  country  house,  which  her  private  means  had 
enabled  her  to  purchase. 

"  I  d — o  trust  you  will  excuse  this  intrusion," 
began  Shepperton.  "  The  business  which  brings 
me  here  is  in  connection  with  the  disappearance 
some  weeks  ago  of  Miss  Elsie  Hobson,  from  Worl- 
stoke,  of  which  mystery  you  have  no  doubt  heard  ?  " 

Madame  Limonaire  shook  her  head  as  she  re- 
phed : 

"  I'm  afraid,  Monsieur,  that  I  have  not  heard  of  it." 

He  looked  surprised,  so  she  added  by  way  of 
explanation  : 

"  You  see,  we  have  so  little  to  do  with  the  outer 
world.  But  if  I  can  assist  you  in  any  way,  I  will 
do  so." 

Her  sweet,  sympathetic  voice  encouraged  Shep- 
perton, and  he  rejoined : 

"It  is  very  kind  of  you  to  offer  help,  Madame — 
let  me  explain  : 

"  Some  weeks  ago.  Miss  Hobson,  to  whom  I  am 
engaged — disappeared ;  and  no  trace  of  her  could 
be  found.  Sometime  after  that,  one  of  her  gloves 
was  found  in  the  old  ruined  priory  of  Melsea." 

Helolse  Limonaire  nodded  encouragingly,  so  he 
continued : 

"  To-day,  by  the  aid  of  a  bloodhound,  we  have 
traced  her  as  far  as  this  house,  and — "  he  paused, 
and  gave  a  short  laugh,  then  went  on  :  "  Well,  that 
is  all,  Madame." 

For  some  time  she  looked  him  fully  in  the  face, 
and  to  the  man  it  seemed  as  if  she  were  reading 

THE   ABBESS  207 

what  was  in  his  mind.    Then  she  gave  a  sigh,  and 
rephed : 

"  Can  Monsieur  describe  the  lady  ?  " 
"  Oh  yes.    She  is  twenty-four  years  of  age,  medium 
height,  dark  brown  hair,  brown  eyes,  dark  skin, 
fairly  robust  in  figure,  good  teeth  rather  prominent, 
one  of  them  missing." 
She  nodded  again,  and  after  a  pause  remarked  : 
"  Have  you  strong  nerves.  Monsieur  ?  " 
He  looked  at  her  a  little  surprisedly,  as  he  replied  : 
"  Well,  I  think  they  are  pretty  sound.    Why  ?  " 
"  Will  you  please  come  with  me  ?  " 
He  followed  her  out  of  the  room,  down  the  hall 
into  another  chamber.    There,  she  beckoned  him 
to  a  large  French  window,  which  looked  out  on  a 
grand  old  lawn. 
"  Look  !  "  she  said. 

The  next  moment  he  gave  a  cry,  his  face  went 
white,  and  he  clutched  desperately  at  the  casement 
for  support.  He  could  hardly  believe  his  eyes,  and 
for  a  space  stood  looking  bewilderedly  at  the  figure 
of  Elsie  Hobson,  seated  in  a  chair  on  the  lawn. 
"  Is  it  true  ?  "  he  asked  mechanically. 
Heloise  Limonaire's  eyes  were  moist,  as  she  an- 
swered compassionately : 

"  Yes,  Monsieur,  it  is  true,     Sit  down  and  I  will 
tell  you  all  about  it." 

Shepperton  sank  into  a  chair,  and  she  began  : 
"  On  the  night  of  the  4th  of  April,  about  ten 
o'clock,  I  felt  compelled  to  go  to  the  main  entrance 
of  the  house.  Such  impressions  never  mislead  me, 
and  through  them  I  have  several  times  been  able 
to  succour  people  in  distress .    This  was  no  exception ; 


I  had  hardly  opened  the  door,  when  a  low  moan, 
almost  at  my  feet,  drew  my  attention.  Lying  on 
the  steps  in  an  exhausted  condition  was  a  young 
woman.  I  immediately  called  assistance,  and  we 
got  her  into  the  house.  She  seemed,  poor  child, 
almost  demented  with  terror,  and  kept  on  crying 
out  to  us  to  save  her,  while  she  continually  put  her 
hands  to  her  throat,  around  which  was  a  little  gold 
cross  suspended  on  a  chain  of  the  same  material. 
Well,  toward  dawn  the  next  morning  she  suddenly 
passed  into  a  coma  or  trance,  and  remained  so  for 
over  five  weeks,  until  four  days  ago,  when  she  as 
suddenly  awoke.  But,  Monsieur,  I  am  afraid  she 
has  lost  her  memory  " — then  added  quickly,  as  she 
saw  his  colour  go :  "  Of  course  that  may  only  be  a 
temporary  matter." 

"  I  hardly  know  how  to  thank  you  for  what  you 
have  done,"  he  said  in  a  strained  voice. 

"  No  thanks  are  needed.  Monsieur,  except  to  Him 
who  has  the  direction  of  all  things.  I  have  only 
done  my  duty.    Wait,  and  I  will  fetch  Miss " 

"  Hobson,"  said  Shepperton,  Ming  in  the  name. 

The  Lady  Superior  opened  the  window,  and  the 
man  watched  her  cross  the  lawn  to  where  Elsie  sat, 
and  take  her  arm. 

In  a  few  minutes  they  had  returned,  and  Shepper- 
ton's  pulse  quickened  as  he  stepped  forward  and 
took  his  fiancee's  hand. 

"  Elsie,  don't  you  know  me  ?  " 

She  looked  at  him  strangely,  and  smiUng  patheti- 
cally, turned  to  Madame  Limonaire,  as  though  for 
an  explanation. 

"  The   gentleman    has    called    to   see  you,  my 

THE   ABBESS  209 

child.  He  says  he  knows  you;  don't  you  recog- 
nise him  ?  " 

"  No !  "  she  angered,  with  a  perplexed  look. 
"  I  don't  think  I  have  met  him  before." 

His  heart  sank ;  she  did  not  know  him  ■  but  after 
all  she  was  ahve,  and  there  was  hope.  His  spirits 
revived  somewhat,  as  the  brighter  side  of  things 
presented  itself  to  his  mind. 

"  Well,  with  your  permission,  Madame,  I  will  de- 
part for  the  present,  and  if  I  may  impose  upon  your 
goodness  for  a  little  longer,  perhaps  you  will  care  for 
Miss  Hobson  until  I  can  make  suitable  arrangements 
for  her  to  be  fetched." 

"  By  all  means  let  her  stay  here  as  long  as  you 

Shepperton  thanked  her,  then  added : 

"  I  think  I  will  consult  Miss  AUetson,  the  Vicar 
of  Worlstoke's  sister,  who  is  a  friend  of  mine.  I 
don't  doubt  that  she  will  be  wilhng  to  fetch  Miss 
Hobson,  when  we  have  broken  the  news  to  her 

When  Shepperton  got  outside.  Canning  was  sitting 
on  the  steps  smoking.  He  at  once  noticed  by  the 
other  man's  face  that  something  extraordinary  had 
happened.  However,  he  did  not  speak,  but  waited 
for  Shepperton  to  explain. 

"  She  is  there  !  "  he  said  in  a  low  voice,  pointing 
to  the  house. 

"  Good,"  answered  the  detective  coolly. 

"  Come,"  said  Shepperton ;  "  we  can  do  nothing 
more  at  present." 

As  they  walked  along,  he  related  what  had 
taken    place.     Canning    hstened    without    inter- 



rupting,  until  he  had  finished.  Then  he  said 
cheerfully : 

"  Well,  Mr.  Shepperton,  you  must  hope  for  the 
best ;  it  wiU  not  be  the  first  case  of  the  kind  that  has 
been  cured,  by  any  means." 

"  I  hope  not,"  was  the  spiritless  reply. 

They  walked  in  silence  for  a  long  time,  and  then 
the  detective  remarked  : 

"  It's  a  good  job  I  sent  for  the  dog,  eh  ?  " 

"  Yes ;  but  for  that,  goodness  only  knows  when  we 
should  have  found  her.  I  am  grateful,  Mr.  Canning, 
for  your  help."   - 

"  Ah,"  he  answered  reflectively,  "  and  now  we 
have  got  to  lay  hold  of  the  criminal,  which  I  don't 
think  will  be  so  easy  !  " 

"  Don't  you  reaUy  think  so  ?  "  rejoined  the  other, 
in  surprised  tones. 

"  No ;  there  is  something  in  this  case  which  even 
I  don't  understand,  with  all  my  experience." 



Mr.  Brentwood  sat  staring  indifferently  at  a  lengthy 
letter  that  lay  on  his  study  table.  It  was  from  a 
well-known  F.R.S.,  with  whom  he  had  some  little 
time  ago  witnessed  one  or  two  experiments  in 
trance  clairvoyance.  The  results  had  been  good,  and 
were  the  more  satisfactory,  as  the  medium  was  an 
amateur.  Indeed,  so  strongly  had  the  professor 
been  impressed  that  he  had  written  the  Master  of 
Storton  the  letter  which  now  lay  before  him,  ask- 
ing if  he  would  be  wiUing  to  co-operate  in  a  series 
of  experiments,  with  a  view  to  obtaining  reUable 

.  Curiously  enough,  Brentwood  did  not  feel  flattered, 
he  was  not  keen  upon  providing  laboriously  com- 
piled academic  proofs  for  the  academic  use  of 
the  privileged  few.  In  his  heart  he  felt  that  the 
time  would  be  largely  wasted.  Such  proofs  as 
might  be  forthcoming  would  not  be  understood  by 
the  general  public,  because  the  testimony  would  not 
be  what  is  called  scientifically  demonstrable. 

No,  let  the  learned  gentleman  experiment  and 
find  out  for  himself.  That  was  the  way  in  which 
he  had  acquired  knowledge ;  in  fact,  it  is  the  only 
way  in  which  anyone  can  hope  to  learn  any  of  the 
inner  truths  of  existence. 

Really,  at   the  moment  he  did  npt  want  to  be 


bothered  about  such  matters,  something  else  was 
uppermost  in  his  mind.  He  thought  he  had  dis- 
covered a  weakness  in  himself,  and  he  wanted  to 
quash  it — even  the  most  well-balanced  minds  make 

The  fact  that  Constance  AUetson  suspected  him 
in  regard  to  the  Worlstoke  mystery  disturbed  him. 
He  did  not  know  why  it  should  do  so,  and  be- 
cause he  could  find  no  rational  reason  for  it,  he 
was  annoyed. 

Others  suspected  him  of  the  crimes,  and  he  was 
quite  indifferent.  Why  should  one  woman's  opinion 
give  him  a  sensation  of  being  hurt  ?  To  his  cold 
experienced  mind  it  was  ridiculous  ;  but  the  fact  was 
there  to  be  faced,  and  he  could  not  brush  it  aside. 

Why  ?  Why  ?  He  asked  himself  the  question 
several  times,  but  no  answer  came  to  his  mind. 

"  Absurd  !  "  he  said  half  aloud,  and  jumping  up, 
started  to  pace  the  room  with  slight  irritation.  Then 
he  thought  of  the  reproach  and  pain  which  had 
shown  in  her  eyes  when  he  had  called  that  afternoon 
at  the  Vicarage.  It  was  obvious  that  the  feeling  of 
reproach  was  against  the  evil  she  believed  he  had 
wrought ;  but  what  caused  the  pain  ?  Could  it 
possibly  be  that  she  was  hurt  in  a  personal  way, 
because  she  thought  he  had  committed  a  crime  ? 

"  Rubbish !  "  he  said  aloud.  Picking  up  at 
random  a  book,  he  hghted  his  pipe,  and  flung  himself 
on  the  couch  to  pass  an  hour  away,  reading. 

But  Fate  was  paying  particular  attention  to  him 
this  morning,  and  it  was  not  going  to  let  him  rest 
as  he  wished. 

"  Even    the    dog    won't    come    near   me,"   he 


thought,  as  he  opened  the  book.  It  happened 
to  be  a  volume  of  Tennyson's  Poems,  and  he 
opened  it  haphazard.  The  poem  was  "  Maud," 
and  as  he  glanced  at  the  open  page,  he  read  : 

"  Oh  let  the  solid  ground 
Not  fail  beneath  my  feet, 
Before  my  life  has  found 
What  some  have  found  so  sweet ; 
Then  let  come  what  come  may, 
What  matter  if  I  go  mad  ? 
I  shall  have  had  my  day." 

He  looked  absently  out  of  the  window  as  he 
thought  over  the  words,  and  smiled  slightly  as  it 
occurred  to  him  that  the  verse  represented  a  passion- 
ate appeal  to  the  gods  of  a  lad  about  twenty-five,  to 
let  him  know  what  love  was  before  he  died. 

At  that  age  he  might  have  held  the  same  senti- 
ment ;  but  he  was  nearly  forty  now,  and,  so  far  as 
he  knew,  the  eternal  passion  which  is  talked  about 
did  not  exist.  To  his  mind,  all  manifestations  of 
so-called  love  simply  sprang  from  the  sex  instinct. 

He  turned  one  or  two  pages  carelessly,  and  read 
again : 

"  She  is  coming,  my  own,  my  sweet ; 
Were  it  ever  so  airy  a  tread 
My  heart  would  hear  her  and  beat, 
Were  it  earth  in  an  earthy  bed ; 
My  dust  would  hear  and  beat, 
Had  I  lain  for  a  century  dead ; 
Would  start  and  tremble  under  her  feet 
And  blossom  in  purple  and  red." 

"Umph!"  he  exclaimed;  "Tennyson  seemed  to 
have  the  idea  of  the  eternal,  as  applied  to  individuals. 

214         AGAR   HALFI   THE   MYSTIC 

very  deeply  implanted.  Those  lines  are  good ; 
their  hidden  meaning  is  eternal  love.  They  express 
a  beautiful  ideal — if  it  were  only  true." 

He  mused  abstractedly,  and  wondered  what  sort 
of  a  difference  it  would  make  to  people's  lives,  if 
they  could  all  realise  and  find  such  an  ideal  ?  But 
then,  he  thought  sadly,  "  Man  never  lives  up  to  what 
he  truly  believes  is  right." 

"  It  is  true  !  " 

He  opened  his  half -closed  eyes  with  a  jerk,  and 
stared  round  the  room.  The  words  rang  so  clearly 
in  his  ear  that  he  felt  they  must  have  been  spoken 
by  a  human  voice  |  then  he  laughed  quietly ;  of 
course,  no  one  was  there. 

"  If  it  is  true,  it  is  true,"  he  said  to  himself  idly. 
From  that,  his  thoughts  drifted  into  a  fresh  channel. 
It  occurred  to  him  that  he  was  rather  a  lonely  man ; 
that,  with  the  exception  of  Agar  Halfi,  nobody  knew 
him  well  i  that,  outside  his  work,  life  was  dull  and 
uninteresting ,-  that 

He  paused  involuntarily ;  such  a  train  of  imagin- 
ings was  not  healthy,  it  might  lead  to  a  breakdown, 
and  that  would  never  do. 

It  was  of  course  natural,  he  thought,  that  women 
should  play  the  most  important  part  in  men's  lives, 
and  vice  versa.  But  that  was  a  general  statement, 
and  there  are  always  exceptions.  He  had  never 
felt  the  need  of  the  opposite  sex  in  the  ideal  sense 
expressed  by  the  poets  and  other  writers,  during  his 
existence.  True,  he  had  at  times  been  attracted  by 
women,  but  cold  reason  had  quickly  suggested  to 
him  that  such  fancies  arose  from  the  natural  law, 
and  he  had  rigorously  suppressed  them. 


He  was  in  his  fortieth  year,  and,  as  he  thought, 
he  had  not  only  mastered  such  things,  but  out- 
grown them.  He  had  no  doubt,  too,  that  he  owed 
his  success  in  psychic  research  to  his  clear  life.  Some 
of  the  experiments  he  made  took  a  tremendous  lot 
of  his  strength,  and  there  had  to  be  a  reserve,  which 
in  turn  had  to  be  built  up  somehow. 

And  then  he  came  back  to  what  he  had  originally 
been  thinking  about.  He  smiled.  "  For  sure,  all 
things  travel  in  circles,  even  thoughts,"  he  muttered. 
"  Still,  I  cannot  deny  it,  I  really  wish  Constance 
AUetson  did  not  suspect  me.   It  hurts  somehow " 

A  low  knock  at  the  door  interrupted  him. 

"  Come  in  !  "  he  said  normally.  It  was  one  of 
the  maids. 

"  The  Vicar  has  called  to  see  you,  sir." 

Brentwood's  eyes  expressed  interest. 

"  Show  him  in,  please." 

"  Phew !  It  is  some  time  since  he  called;  I  am 
glad  he  has  looked  in." 

When  Alletson  entered  the  room,  Brentwood  saw 
at  once  that  something  out  of  the  ordinary  had 
happened.  His  usually  kind  face  was  grave,  and 
his  eyes  shone  with  suppressed  excitement. 

Rising,  he  extended  his  hand,  and  said — cordially 
for  him — "  I'm  glad  to  see  you,  Alletson." 

Beyond  thanking  him,  the  Vicar  did  not  reply, 
but  taking  a  chair,  looked  meditatively  out  of  the 

Brentwood  looked  at  him  curiously,  then  re- 
marked : 

"  Well,  what's  happened  ?  anything  serious  ?  " 

An  expression  of  surprise  passed  over  the  other's 

2i6         AGAR   HALFI   THE   MYSTIC 

face,  and  he  glanced  keenly  at  his  host  before  he 
replied : 

"  I  have  some  news  which  may  be  pleasing  to 

"  Why  may  be  ?  "  was  the  query. 

The  Vicar  laughed  a  short,  spiritless  laugh,  then 
said : 

"  I  will  tell  you.  Elsie  Hobson  has  been  found ! 
She  is  now  at  the  Vicarage."  The  Master  of  Storton 
looked  at  him  blankly,  and  the  Vicar  met  his  gaze 
steadily.  Like  most  men  of  his  temperament,  he 
was  not  a  coward,  and  when  his  sense  of  justice 
caused  him  to  do  an  unpleasant  thing,  he  never 
hesitated.  However,  nothing  in  the  features  of 
his  host  gave  any  sign  of  dismay.  He  did  not  even 
start  perceptibly,  and  it  would  have  been  hard  for 
any  man  to  have  quite  hidden  his  emotions  at  such 
news,  if  he  happened  to  be  guilty. 

"  That's  satisfactory,  even  to  me,  Alletson.  Tell 
me  all  about  it." 

The  Vicar  related  in  detail  how  she  had  been 
traced,  then  added : 

"  Constance  went  and  brought  her  away,  poor 
girl,  and  for  the  present  she  is  going  to  stay  at  the 
Vicarage,  if  her  parents  agree.  She  will  want  some- 
one to  look  after  her,  and  Constance  has  offered 
to  do  it." 

"It  is  generous  of  your  sister.  By  the  way, 
Alletson,  cannot  I  be  of  any  use  here  ?  I  have  dealt 
successfully  with  one  or  two  similar  cases,  and,  if  I 
may  say  so,  where  ordinary  medical  advice  has 
completely  failed.  I  should  be  happy  to  help  if  I 


A  troubled  look  entered  the  other's  eyes,  as  he 
answered : 

"  I  am  sorry  to  say  so,  Brentwood,  but  it  is  not 
possible  !  " 

"  Indeed  !  "  was  the  rejoinder.   "  How  is  that  ?  " 

The  Vicar  breathed  deeply,  and  was  silent  for  a 
time.  When  he  answered,  it  was  as  if  he  had  to 
force  the  words  : 

"  They  suspect  you,  Brentwood  !  " 

The  Master  of  Storton's  face  assumed  a  hard 
expression,  but  it  was  transient.  He  laughed  ironi- 
cally, and  rephed : 

"  I'm  aware  of  that,  Alletson — at  least  that  your 
sister  does." 

The  Vicar  winced  a  little. 

"  They  all  do,  Brentwood." 

The  Master  of  Storton  slowly  filled  his  pipe,  while 
the  other  watched  him.  When  he  had  finished,  he 
turned  his  dark  eyes  fully  on  Alletson,  and  said 
coldly : 


The  Vicar  half  rose  in  his  chair. 

"There  is  no  'well'  about  it,  Brentwood,"  he 
returned  with  emotion.  "  Whatever  others  may 
think,  I  don't  suspect  you  •  never  did  •  never  shall. 
I  cannot  think  you  capable  of  such  things. 

Brentwood  turned  his  eyes  away,  and  his  face 

"  It  is  nice  to  hear  you  say  that,  Alletson.  I — I 
thought  1  only  had  one  friend,  and  that  he  was  a 
Hindoo,  named  Agar  Halfi." 

"Well,  it  is  not  so,  you  can  depend  on  that," 
rejoined  the  other. 


"  I  thank  you  for  your  confidence  in  me,  Alletson. 
You  are  quite  right,  I  could  not  perpetrate  such 
crimes  as  those  of  which  I  am  suspected." 

There  was  a  shght  pause,  and  then  he  continued : 

"  I  suppose  Miss  Alletson  has  told  you  why  she 
suspects  me  ?  " 

"  Yes." 

"  Do  others  suspect  me  for  the  same  reason  ?  " 

"  No,  they  have  other  grounds  !  " 

Brentwood,  who  was  half  lying  on  the  couch, 
sat  up  and  stared  at  his  guest  with  a  surprised 

"  Other  grounds  !  "  he  repeated.  "  I  must  con- 
fess I  am  a  little  astonished.  I  am  quite  at  a  loss 
to  understand  what  other  tangible  reasons  there 
could  be.     Do  you  ?  " 

**  I'm  afraid  I'm  not  at  liberty  to  tell  you,  Brent- 
wood. You  see,  the  others  have  confided  in  me, 
and  I  am  almost  bound  in  honour  not  to  speak." 

"  Do  not  distress  yourself,  Alletson,"  replied  the 
other  quickly,  "  I  quite  understand.  By  the  way, 
now  you  are  here,  and  as  things  have  turned  out  so 
curiously,  I  will  show  you  something  which  may  be 
of  interest." 

Rising,  he  went  to  his  desk,  and  unlocking  it,  took 
out  a  photograph  of  the  footprints,  the  copy  of 
which  he  had  lost.  Handing  it  to  the  Vicar,  he 
said : 

"  Have  you  seen  anything  like  that  before  ?  " 

AUetson  gave  one  glance  at  it,  and  a  troubled 
look  spread  over  his  face. 

"  Brentwood  !  "  he  exclaimed  eagerly.  "  Why 
have  you  shown  me  this  ?  " 


Intuitively,  the  Master  of  Storton  noticed  im- 
mediately that  the  photograph  caused  his  friend 
imdue  excitement,  but  avoiding  the  question  asked 
him,  he  replied  : 

"  Five  years  ago,  when  in  Afghanistan,  I  heard  of 
a  strange,  mysterious  death,  that  at  certain  periods 
terrorized  the  populace  of  a  particular  district ;  so 
I  set  forth  to  investigate  it.  The  place  where  it  was 
supposed  to  be  was  not  many  miles  out  of  my  way — 
I  was  then  journeying  toward  the  Persian  border — 
and  I  easily  found  it.  We  camped  overnight,  not 
far  from  the  cave  which  it  was  said  to  haunt,  with 
the  intention  of  commencing  operations  the  next 
day.  However,  we  were  not  fated  to  go  and  seek 
this  evil,  it  sought  us.  It  attacked  me,  just  before 
the  dawn,  and  I  narrowly  escaped  with  my  Ufe. 
For  nearly  six  weeks  I  lay  in  a  deep  trance,  during 
which  time  I  remembered  nothing.  When  I  re- 
covered, which  was  quite  suddenly.  Agar  Halfi  told 
me  what  had  happened,  and  produced  a  photograph 
of  those  footmarks,  which  he  had  had  the  forethought 
to  take.  That  which  you  have  in  your  hands  is 
the  original,  the  copy  I  lost  a  few  weeks  ago." 

The  Vicar,  who  had  not  missed  a  single  word  of 
his  host's  narrative,  gazed  at  him  with  astonished 
eyes  for  some  little  time,  while  Brentwood  smiled 
back  at  him  amusedly.  At  last,  finding  his  tongue, 
he  exclaimed : 

"  Why,  that  trance  seems  to  tally  with  what  Elsie 
Hobson  experienced." 

"  With  the  exception  that  I  did  not  suffer  from 
loss  of  memory,  and — "  here  the  Master  of  Storton 
loosened  .his    collar,    and   exposed   to  his   friend 

320         AGAR   HALFI    THE   MYSTIC 

a  jagged  white  seam  on  his  throat,  about  two 
and  a  half  inches  long.  "  Elsie  Hobson  hasn't 

The  Vicar  uttered  an  exclamation. 

"  Why,  that  scar  is  the  same  as  the  one  which 
was  found  on  poor  Thornton's  body  !  " 

Brentwood  nodded  grimly.    Then  said  : 

"  Now  what  do  you  think  of  this.  The  night  we 
were  encamped  outside  that  cave  in  Afghanistan, 
and  before  we  settled  down  to  sleep,  Agar  Halfi  told 
me  the  following." 

Here  he  related  to  the  Vicar  the  Legend  of  the 

"It  is  all  very  strange,  Brentwood,  yet  I  should 
be  more  inclined  to  believe  that  the  Legend  was 
invented  to  tally  with  the  deaths.  Still,  what  you 
have  told  me  confirms  what  I  fully  believed  in  my 
heart,  that " 

"  That  the  others  who  found  the  copy  of  that 
photograph,  and  on  it  based  their  suspicions  that  I 
am  the  culprit,  made  a  sHght  mistake,  eh  ?  "  in- 
terrupted the  Master  of  Storton. 

For  a  moment  AUetson  looked  confused,  then  the 
frank  generous  nature  of  the  man  asserting  itself, 
he  said : 

"  You  have  hit  it ;  that  is  so." 

"  It  was  to  get  at  that  point  I  showed  you  the 
photograph.  When  you  told  me  that  others  suspected 
me  as  well  as  your  sister,  but  on  quite  different 
grounds,  it  occurred  to  me  at  once  that  the  lost 
photograph  must  be  the  cause.  You  see,  the  initials 
"  H.  A.  B."  endorsed,  would  inform  the  finder  to 
whom  it  belonged." 


The  Vicar  laughed  cheerfully,  as  if  a  weight  had 
been  taken  off  his  mind. 

"  I'm  so  glad  I  came,"  he  said,  rising.  "  Now  I 
will  go  and  put  matters  right. 

"  Not  quite  right,"  returned  his  host,  looking  at 
him  steadily.  "  What  you  now  know  will  not  prove 
me  innocent  to  Miss  Alletson." 

The  Vicar's  face  dropped.  "  Ah,  I  had  forgotten. 
Still,  that  will  no  doubt  clear  itself  all  right,"  he 
said  encouragingly.     "  Good-bye  for  the  present." 

Brentwood  smiled  doubtfully,  as  he  shook  hands. 

"  Let  me  know  if  I  can  be  of  any  assistance  with 
regard  to  Miss  Hobson,"  he  said  finally  as  they 
parted  at  the  door. 

Going  back  to  his  study,  Brentwood  thrust  his 
hands  into  his  coat  pockets,  and  stared  hard 
at  the  table.  "  I  suppose  it  is  satisfactory,"  he 
thought,  then  he  shook  his  head  slowly,  "but  it 
won't  affect  her  suspicions,  and  I'm  afraid  it  is  not 
in  my  power  to  dispose  of  them." 

A  knock  at  the  door  disturbed  him,  and  the  next 
moment  Agar  Halfi  entered. 

"  Good !  "  exclaimed  the  Master  of  Storton ;  "  I 
wanted  to  see  you." 

He  related  what  had  transpired  at  the  Vicar's 
visit.  The  Hindoo  smiled  and  nodded,  but  did  not 
speak.  Brentwood  looked  at  him  with  a  dry  smile, 
the  Oriental's  quaint  ways  interested  him. 

"  You  see,  I  am  in  disgrace  with  the  district.  Agar 

The  Hindoo  shrugged  his  shoulders  contemptu- 
ously, as  though  the  matter  were  hardly  worth 


"  Did  you  want  me  for  anything  ?  "  asked  Brent- 
wood, after  a  pause. 

"  Yes,  Sahib,  Hector  has  disappeared  again  !  " 

The  other  laughed  curiously.  "  Gone  to  the 
Vicarage  ?  "  he  queried. 

"  Probably — ^shall  I  go  and  see  ?  " 

The  Master  of  Storton  knitted  his  brows  for  a 
moment,  then  replied : 

"  No  !  If  he  is  there,  let  him  stay,  unless  they 
ask  for  him  to  be  fetched  away.  If  he  is  anywhere 
else,  he  will  turn  up  all  right." 

"  Good,"  answered  the  Hindoo  indifferently. 

"  Anything  else  ?  " 

Agar  Halfi  folded  his  arms,  and  for  a  space  stood 
in  solemn  silence,  then  he  answered  : 

"  To-day  week  the  Sahib  is  forty  years  old." 

"  That  is  true,  my  friend.  What  of  it  ?  Do  you 
want  to  buy  me  a  present  ?  " 

"  The  Sahib  does  not  need  material  presents," 
returned  the  other,  without  losing  his  dignified 

"  Go  on,"  said  Brentwood,  smihng. 

"  Do  you  know  the  aspects  of  your  progressed 
horoscope  on  that  date  ?  " 

"  Yes,  I  think  I  do,"  was  the  careless  reply. 

"  Sahib,  they  are  evil,  more  evil  than  any  I 
have  seen  in  your  nativity.  I  warn  you  to  be  care- 
ful. Neptune  culminates,  and  the  moon  is  at  the 

Brentwood  thought  for  a  few  minutes,  then 

"  Thank  you.  Agar  Halfi.  I  will  be  on  my  guard, 
and  I  take  it  that  you  have  the  matter  in  mind  ?  " 


The  Hindoo  nodded  gravely  as  he  replied,  "  I 
am  keeping  watch  now.  Sahib." 

"  And  I  will  report  my  movements  to  you  each 
day,"  said  Brentwood,  "  so  that  you  will  know 
exactly  where  to  find  me." 

"  Ah,"  exclaimed  the  other  approvingly,  then 
said  to  himself — as  though  continuing  the  other's 
sentence — "  all  that  you  are  aware  of  !  " 

"  Now  to  return  to  the  Worlstoke  Mystery,  Agar 
Halfi.  What  do  you  think  of  Miss  Hobson's  case  ? 
Don't  you  think  we  could  restore  her  memory  ?  " 

The  Hindoo's  black  eyes  flashed  as  he  replied  : 

"  Maybe,  Sahib,  but  Agar  Halfi  feels  that  until 
the  evil  which  has  caused  the  trouble  is  run  to  earth, 
the  young  lady's  memory  will  not  return." 

"  Still,  it  might  be  tried,"  continued  Brentwood 

"  From  what  Mr.  AUetson  told  you,  there  are 
difficulties  in  the  way.  Sahib." 

"  Yes,  I  know,  but  I  thought  perhaps  you  would 
take  the  matter  in  hand,  if  they  were  willing." 

The  Hindoo  shook  his  head  doubtfully. 

"  That  is  speculative ;  still,  it  could  be  suggested." 

"  Well  then,  I  will  write  to  the  Vicar  to-day, 
stating  that  I  shall  be  pleased  to  take  Miss  Hobson's 
case  in  hand,  and  that  if  there  is  any  objection,  you 
will  be  willing  to  do  so.  If  they  refuse,"  well,  no 
more  can  be  said ;  we  shall  have  done  our  best." 

"  Very  good,  Sahib." 



Constance  woke  with  a  start.  For  a  time  she  lay 
in  a  shght  perspiration,  with  that  uncomfortable 
feeling  of  fear  one  has  when  waking  suddenly  out 
of  a  distasteful  dream. 

It  was  dark,  so  she  closed  her  eyes  instinctively, 
in  order  to  shut  out  what  might  be  there  for  her 
to  see.  As  she  gradually  obtained  control  of  her 
faculties,  she  chided  herself  for  being  a  silly  goose ! 
Sitting  up  in  bed,  she  reached  the  matches,  and 
Ughted  a  night  lamp  which  she  kept  on  a  small  table 
close  by.  That  done,  she  lay  back  and  hstened 
intently,  but  no  sound  caught  her  ear,  all  was  silent. 
Satisfied,  she  looked  at  her  watch,  and  noted  that 
it  was  five  minutes  to  four  o'clock,  and  very  nearly 
daybreak.  Then  she  turned  her  attention  to  her 

It  had  been  a  disagreeable  one,  but  she  waived  that 
aside.  If  she  were  not  very  much  mistaken,  it  was 
an  important  one  !  In  character,  it  corresponded 
to  that  which  she  had  before  experienced,  the  one 
which  resembled  the  dream  Agar  Halfi  told  her  he 
had  had.  Setthng  herself  comfortably  down,  she 
went  over  it  in  detail,  so  as  to  commit  it  thoroughly 
to  memory. 

Once  again  she  had  stood  in  that  desolate  wild 

mountainous  region,  waiting  for  she  knew  not  what, 



and  her  heart  was  filled  with  a  strange  fear.  At 
last  there  appeared  before  her  the  same  Hindoo 
priest  who  had  manifested  in  her  last  dream.  In 
his  left  hand  he  held  a  black  wand,  in  his  right  a 
white  one.  The  left  half  of  his  flowing  robe  was 
black,  the  right  half  white,  and  in  his  sombre  eyes 
glowed  the  deep  fire  of  the  mystic. 

Raising  both  wands  above  his  head,  he  addressed 
her  thus :  "  Child,  you  are  one  of  the  instruments 
of  Fate  in  a  strange  tragedy.  Upon  you  falls  a 
burden,  which  is  really  the  burden  of  others.  Un- 
less you  faithfully  carry  out  your  part  thereof,  so 
surely  shall  you  repent  too  late.  I  forewarn  you 
that  the  secret  of  your  own  life  will  be  revealed  by 
your  spirit  to  your  mind,  before  the  moon  is  on  the 
wane,  and  if  you  take  one  false  step,  flinch  once 
from  your  duty,  your  doom  will  be  this  " — ^here  he 
pointed  with  the  black  wand  to  the  number  eighteen 
which  appeared  in  figures  of  lurid  fire — "  and  many 
weary  cycles  shall  pass  before  once  again  the  oppor- 
tunity shall  occur  to  enable  you  to  advance  in  the 
mysterious  evolution  of  eternal  life.  But  if  you 
are  true  to  yourself,  if  you  act  fearlessly  and  un- 
selfishly, all  will  go  well,  and  the  result  will  be  this  " — 
here  he  raised  the  white  wand,  and  pointed  to  the 
number  twenty-two,  which  glowed  in  figures  of  pure 
white  hght.  "  But  I  warn  you,  child,  that  your 
task  is  not  an  easy  one.  Remember  that  no  success 
worth  gaining  is  achieved  without  severe  trials. 
When  the  secret  of  eternal  life  is  revealed  to  you,  do 
not  hesitate  to  choose  your  path.  There  is  only  one 
right  way.  All  humans  are  conscious  of  it,  though 
not  many  realise  that  they  should  have  trodden 



it  until  too  late,  and  then  back  must  they  come  to 
the  physical  plane  of  existence,  to  again  toil  and 
struggle,  until  they  shall  conquer.  This  is  the  last 
time  I  can  appear  to  you ;  already  have  I  said  more 
than  I  judge  to  be  safe.  Yet  one  thing  more.  In 
your  left  hand  you  will  find  imprinted  the  mystic 
Cross  of  St.  Andrew,  which  means  that  you  have 
the  mystic  power,  though  incipient.  It  must  be 
developed,  but  alone  you  can  accomplish  little.  A 
soul  at  present  imprisoned  in  human  clay,  with  the 
mystic  Cross  on  his  right  hand,  shall  fulfil  your 
destiny.  And  now  farewell;  when  we  meet  again 
you  will  know  who  I  am,  for  your  eyes  will  by  that 
time  have  been  opened." 

She  watched  his  figure  fade  away.  When  he  had 
almost  disappeared,  she  heard  his  voice,  wamingly 
clear,  "  Remember,  child,  be  true  to  yourself." 

Satisfied  that  she  had  it  clearly,  Constance  blew 
out  the  lamp  and  turned  toward  the  window.  A 
break  in  the  darkness  told  her  that  the  dawn  was 
approaching.  Closing  her  eyes,  she  tried  to  settle 
down,  but  it  was  quite  fight  before  she  eventually 
fell  asleep.  Her  active  brain,  once  thoroughly 
awake,  could  not  easily  be  controlled,  and  in  the 
quiet  darkness  was  even  abnormally  alert.  First 
of  all  her  mind  drifted  on  to  the  mystery,  and  when 
she  had  successfully  dispelled  it,  she  began  to  think 
about  the  Master  of  Storton,  and  that  train  of 
thought  held  for  a  long  time. 

She  still  felt  that  he  was  guilty,  yet  somewhere 
deep  down  she  knew  she  wished  he  was  not.  But 
why  ?  The  man  was  cold,  reserved,  and  appeared 
to  be  selfish,  practically  interested  in  nothing  but 


his  work.  In  spite  of  all  this,  there  was  one  side  of 
him — curiously  enough  a  side  she  only  dimly  under- 
stood— which  appeared  to  be  noble,  indeed,  once  or 
twice  she  had  thought  it  something  more  than  that. 
She  did  know  for  certain  that  it  appealed  to  all 
that  was  best  in  her.  What  a  pity  there  should  be 
that  other  side  to  him.  Ah,  it  was  more  than  a 
pity,  it  was  dreadful.  Yes,  she  was  sorry,  really 
sorry.  Then  she  went  on  to  wonder  how  she  could 
get  at  Agar  Halfi,  so  that  he  could  interpret  her 
dream  ?     And  wondering,  she  slept. 

The  sun  was  shining  brightly  when,  about  two 
hours  later,  she  was  aroused  by  a  loud  bark,  followed 
by  what  sounded  like  a  stifled  screech  from  Martha. 
Slipping  out  of  bed,  Constance  donned  her  dressing- 
gown,  and  opening  the  window,  looked  out,  then 
she  laughed.  Standing  on  the  lawn,  looking  the 
essence  of  stubbornness,  was  Hector,  gazing  stolidly 
at  Martha  in  the  kitchen  doorway,  holding  a  broom 
with  both  hands.  Hearing  her  mistress  laugh, 
Martha  looked  up  hurriedly  and  exclaimed  : 

"  Please,  Miss,  that  brute's  here  again.  He  must 
have  jumped  the  wall  at  the  bottom  of  the 
garden,  and  when  I  went  to  drive  him  away  with 
this  " — here  she  held  up  the  broom — "  he  barked 
at  me." 

Constance  laughed  again,  then  said  : 

"  Never  mind,  Martha ;  let  him  alone,  and  he 
won't  hurt  you.  I'll  see  to  him  when  I  come 

Turning  her  eyes  to  the  dog,  she  called  him  by 
his  name.  Hector  looked  up  quickly,  and  began 
to  slowly  wag  his  tail. 


"  Good  old  dog,"  she  said  coaxingly.  He  whim- 
pered, and  began  pawing  the  lawn. 

"  Now  lie  down,  sir !  "  Hector  obediently  sat 
down  on  all-fours,  his  tail  still  moving  to  and  fro. 

"  All  right,  Martha,  I'll  be  down  shortly."  Saying 
which,  she  withdrew  from  the  window  and  quickly 
commenced  her  toilet.  When  she  had  finished,  she 
went  to  Elsie  Hobson's  room,  the  spare  one  next 
her  own,  and  knocked  quietly ;  receiving  no  answer, 
she  softly  turned  the  handle,  and  opening  the 
door,  went  in  with  a  light  tread.  Elsie  was  sleep- 
ing peacefully,  as  though  nothing  in  the  world  had 
ever  troubled  her.  Poor  girl,  thought  Constance 
sympathetically,  as  she  softly  withdrew,  will  she 
ever  recover  ? 

During  breakfast,  which  meal  Constance  and 
her  brother  took  alone,  Philip  asked  : 

"  What  time  is  Mr.  Shepperton  coming  ?  " 

"  He  said  he  would  call  about  two  o'clock  with 
Mr.  Canning,"  she  rephed-  then  added  uneasily, 
"  I  hope  you  have  not  to  go  out,  Phihp  ?  " 

"  Oh  no,"  he  assured  her ;  "  I  asked  because  I  am 
anxious  to  meet  them,  Constance.  I  have  something 
important  to  say." 

"  Indeed  !  "  she  answered,  surprised. 

"  Read  this,  my  dear."  He  handed  her  a  letter 
which  had  come  by  the  morning's  post  from  the 

Constance  opened  her  eyes  as  she  mastered  its 
contents,  then  looked  at  her  brother  inquiringly. 

"  He  has  soon  got  to  hear  about  Elsie." 

"  I  will  explain,"  said  the  Vicar,  with  a  grave 
smile.     "  Yesterday  morning,  I  went  to  the  Manor 


and  told  Mr.  Brentwood."     As  he  was  speaking,  he 
watched  her  face  contract,  so  he  asked : 
"  Don't  you  approve,  Constance  ?  " 
She  shook  her  head.  •    "I  don't  know  what  to  say, 
Philip.     Tell  me  what  happened." 

"  Well,  I'm  very  glad  I  went,  because  the  result  of 
the  visit  is,  that  I  shall  be  able  to  clear  my  friend 
the  Master  of  Storton  from  any  suspicions  that 
have  been  formulated  against  him  in  connection 
with  the  Worlstoke  Mystery." 

Constance  unconsciously  drew  a  deep  breath. 
"  Can  you  really  do  that  ?  "  she  asked  eagerly. 
Her  brother  could  not  help  noticing  her  keen 

"  Should  you  be  glad  if  I  could  ?  " 
For  a  moment  she  looked  at  her  brother  with  a 
pained  expression ;  she  hardly  liked  his  question ; 
then  she  answered  a  little  coldly,   "  Of  course  I 
should,  Philip.     Need  you  have  asked  ?  " 

"I'm  sorry,  Constance,  but  I  was  not  sure  whether 
or  not  you  were  hostile  toward  him." 
"  No,  indeed;  why  ?  " 

"  Well,"  he  returned  slowly,  "  to  tell  the  truth, 
I  rather  thought  you  were,  considering  what  you 
have  experienced  and  suffered  at  his  hands." 

"  Surely,  Philip,  you  must  know  that  I  am  not 
at  all  like  that.  I  don't  think  I'm  vindictive,  I 
don't  think  I  bear  malice." 

He  did  not  answer,  so  she  said  after  a  pause  : 
"  Tell  me  about  your  visit." 

The  Vicar  related  at  length  all  that  occurred,  and 
she  listened  restlessly.     At  the  end  she  exclaimed  : 
"  I  don't  think  for  a  moment  that  Mr.  Shepperton 


would  agree  to  Mr.  Brentwood  having  anything 
to  do  with  Elsie,  and  I  am  doubtful  as  regards 
Mr  Agar  Halfi." 

"  Quite  so,  Constance ;  but  what  do  you,  yourself, 
think  ?  " 

"  Oh "  she  laughed  hopelessly,  "  after  what 

I  experienced,  what  can  I  think  ?  I  can  only  come 
to  one  conclusion  !  " 

They  finished  their  meal  in  silence,  then  Constance 
rose  to  ring  the  bell.  Having  done  that,  she  turned 
to  the  window,  but  had  hardly  looked  out  when 
she  exclaimed : 

"  Oh,  I  forgot,  Philip,  I've  had  a  visitor  this 
morning  !  "   and  she  laughed. 

"  Visitor  ?  " 

"  Yes — come  and  see." 

He  went  to  the  window,  and  saw  Hector  basking 
in  the  sunshine  on  the  lawn. 

"  Very  extraordinary  he  should  have  taken  such 
a  liking  to  you." 

"  Isn't  it !  " 

They  surveyed  him  for  a  time,  then  turning 
briskly,  Constance  exclaimed :  "  Really,  I  must  go 
and  look  after  Elsie." 

"  And  I  must  go  and  do  some  work,"  added  Philip. 
"  You  will  find  me  in  my  room,  if  I  am  not  about 
when  they  call." 



When  she  agreed  to  look  after  Elsie  Hobson,  Con- 
stance had  taken  upon  herself  a  severe  task.  She 
found  that  the  poor  girl  was  practically  helpless, 
and  it  had  only  been  by  painstaking  efforts  that 
she  had  been  able  to  get  her  to  do  the  most  simple 

As  to  her  past  life,  she  could  not  remember  a 
single  thing.  She  did  not  know  anyone,  not  even 
her  own  name,  and  she  went  about  in  a  mechanical 
sort  of  way,  clinging  to  Constance  like  a  child.  At 
first  it  had  been  very  distressing  to  see  her  like  that, 
but  sensibly  realising  the  situation,  Constance  had 
devoted  herself  to  her  charge,  and  as  far  as  it  was 
possible,  improvement  in  her  condition  had  been 

Elsie  occupied  her  attention  that  morning  for 
fully  an  hour,  by  which  time  it  was  nearly  ten 
o'clock.  She  was,  however,  able  to  spend  a  short 
time  with  her  charge  on  the  lawn,  before  a  ring  at 
the  front-door  bell  warned  her  that  Mr.  Shepperton 
and  Mr.  Canning  had  arrived. 

Rising,  she  went  quickly  into  the*  house,  to  find 
that  Martha  had  shown  them  into  the  drawing- 
room.  Shepperton  introduced  Mr.  Canning  to  her, 
and  that  gentleman,  bowing  awkwardly,  said  that  he 

hoped  she  was  well. 



Constance  looked  at  him  curiously,  and  wanted 
to  laugh.  He  looked  so  uncongenial  in  her  prettj' 
room,  sitting  in  a  low  fancy  chair,  with  his  long  legs 
and  great  feet  sprawling  on  the  carpet.  But  almost 
the  next  moment  she  detected  something  in  his 
appearance  which  commanded  her  respect.  What 
it  was  she  could  not  exactly  define,  she  simply  knew 
that  she  had  realised  he  was  a  strong,  reliable  man. 

"  And  how  is  Elsie  this  morning  ?  "  inquired 

"Oh,  about  the  same,  I  think.  You  had  better 
come  and  see  her." 

Just  then  the  Vicar  entered,  and  after  he  had 
been  introduced  to  the  detective,  Constance  said  : 

"  Come  along,  Mr,  Shepperton,  I  will  take  you 
to  Elsie,  while  Phihp  talks  to  Mr.  Canning." 

When  they  had  gone,  Alletson  looked  silently  at 
the  detective,  who  was  apparently  deeply  interested 
in  the  design  of  a  vase  on  the  mantelpiece.  The 
Vicar  did  not  know  what  to  think  of  him,  he  was 
such  a  queer-looking  man.  He  was  just  about  to 
address  him,  when,  without  turning  his  head,  Mr. 
Canning  exclaimed : 

"  I  expect  you  have  wondered  what  I  think  about 
this  case,  sir  ?  " 

Alletson  smiled  genially.  "  That  is  just  what  I 
was  going  to  ask  you,  Mr.  Canning." 

The  detective  screwed  up  his  thin  lips,  and  sagely 
nodded  his  head. 

"  Well,  officially  speaking,  the  case  would,  I 
think,  be  reported  as  one  '  that  has  baffled  all 
efforts,'  but  personally  " — here  he  turned  quickly 
and  looked  steadily  at  the  Vicar,  as  though  to  make 

THE   DECISION   OF   THE   "COMBINE"     233 

quite  sure  he  was  not  on  wrong  ground — "  I  feel 
there  is  either  a  huge  hoax  being  carried  on,  or 
else  it  is  a  "genuine  mystery,  as  far  out  of  the 
reach  of  ordinary  investigation  as  I  am  from  being 

AUetson  lifted  his  eyebrows  in  surprise  at  this 
very  uncommon  speech,  then  he  laughed  genuinely. 

"  I  think,  Mr.  Canning,  you  have  summed  up  the 
situation  pretty  accurately.  But  do  you  intend  to 
deal  with  the  matter  officially  or  personally  ?  " 

"  Both,  sir.     I  am  interested." 

"  I  feel  I  must  congratulate  you  on  your  success 
in  finding  Miss  Hobson." 

"  As  much  a  matter  of  luck,  Mr.  AUetson,  as  any- 
thing else,"  was  the  modest  reply. 

"  If  we  could  only  get  her  memory  restored,  we 
might  discover  something." 

"  Perhaps,"  answered  the  detective,  "  but  you 
never  can  tell." 

At  this  juncture  the  other  two  returned,  Constance 
with  tears  in  her  eyes,  and  Shepperton  looking  very 

"  Well  ?  "  asked  the  Vicar  sympathetically. 

Shepperton  shook  his  head  gloomily,  as  he  re- 
plied : 

"  It  seems  quite  hopeless ;  not  a  vestige  of  recogni- 
tion has  she  shown  in  any  way." 

They  were  all  silent  for  a  space,  then  Mr.  Canning 
remarked  in  his  high-pitched  voice  : 

"  A  case  like  this  requires  time,  you  cannot  hope 
for  quick  results.     Give  it  three  months." 

Shepperton  smiled  despairingly.  "  I  suppose  that 
is  what  it  amounts  to,  and  perhaps  I  had  better 


realise  straight  away  that  it  will  probably  be  a  long 
job,  even  if  she  does  recover." 

"  In  that  connection,  I  have  something  important 
to  say,"  remarked  the  Vicar  steadily.  All  eyes 
turned  to  him  as  he  continued :  "  But  first  of  all, 
I  wish  to  speak  with  regard  to  the  photograph  which 
Mr.  Shepperton  found." 

"  Oh  yes,"  answered  that  gentleman  attentively. 

"  To  get  straight  to  the  point,  I  called  on  the 
Master  of  Storton  yesterday,  partly  to  inform  him 
of  Miss  Hobson's  return.  When  I  had  finished,  he 
produced  a  similar  photograph  to  the  one  Mr. 
Shepperton  found,  and  asked  me  if  I  had  seen  any- 
thing like  it  before.  Of  course  I  was  surprised,  but 
not  half  so  much  as  I  was  when  he  told  me  the  story 
of  it,"  Here  the  Vicar  related  in  detail  what  he 
had  learned  from  Mr.  Brentwood.  Then  he  con- 
tinued : 

"  Now  I  think  that  pretty  well  absolves  the  Master 
of  Storton  from  any  suspicions  which  may  have 
been  formed  against  him,  so  far  as  the  photograph  is 
concerned.    What  do  you  say,  Mr.  Shepperton  ?  " 

Thus  addressed,  the  latter  gave  a  short  unsatisfied 
laugh,  and  answered  : 

"  If  what  Mr.  Brentwood  told  you  is  true,  I  don't 
see  how  we  can  come  to  any  other  conclusion." 

"  There  is  no  doubt  about  the  scar  on  his  throat, 
and  there  is  little  doubt  that  it  corresponds  in  shape 
to  the  wound  found  on  the  body  of  poor  Thornton," 
replied  AUetson  with  a  little  heat, 

"  Quite  so,"  returned  Shepperton,  "  What  do 
you  think.  Canning  ?  " 

"  I  agree  that  it  clears  the  gentleman  from  sus- 

THE   DECISION    OF   THE    "COMBINE"     235 

picion  in  a  direct  way,  and,  if  what  he  says  took 
place  in  Afghanistan  can  be  verified,  certainly  from 
any  suspicion  as  regards  the  photograph,  but —  " 
he  paused,  and  they  all  looked  at  him  inquiringly. 
It  was  Constance  who  put  the  question  to  him : 

"  How  else  could  it  affect  him  ?  " 

The  detective  pursed  his  thin  hps,  and  half-closed 
his  eyes,  before  he  replied  : 

"  Has  it  not  occurred  to  anyone  that  if  Mr.  Brent- 
wood's story  is  true,  he  is  indirectly  the  cause  of  this 
mysterious  something  coming  to  this  district  ?  It 
has  never  before  been  heard  of  in  England  !  " 

They  stared  blankly  at  the  detective,  then  Shep- 
perton  slapped  his  thigh,  and  exclaimed  : 

"  So  simple,  too,  yet  it  never  struck  me." 

"  And,"  continued  Canning,  addressing  the  Vicar, 
"is  it  not  probable  that  he  never  told  you  about 
this  before,  because  he  realised  that  you  would 
come  to  such  a  conclusion  ?  " 

"  Not  necessarily  so,"  rejoined  the  Vicar.  "  If 
the  Master  of  Storton  were  conscious  of  the  fact  that 
he  had  unknowingly  brought  this  evil  to  England, 
I  do  not  see  any  possible  reason  why  he  should  try 
to  hide  anything  connected  with  it.  The  simple 
fact  that  he  may  have  been  instrumental  in  the 
matter  does  not  make  him  guilty  !  " 

"  Your  argument  can  be  turned  another  way, 
reverend  sir,"  replied  the  detective  a  little  grimly. 
"  The  gentleman  has  on  his  own  showing  withheld 
certain  important  information,  which  tends  to  show 
that  he  does  know  he  brought  the  evil  to  England, 
and  that  he  is  guilty  in  endeavouring  to  cover  up 
his  traces." 


"  Then  why  did  he  tell  me  yesterday  about  the 
photograph,  if  he  intended  to  deceive  us  ?  Why 
did  he  not  still  keep  silent  ?  "  answered  Alletson  a 
little  triumphantly. 

"  What  you  say  seems  good  enough,  Mr.  Alletson, 
but  you  must  remember  that  this  gentleman  de- 
liberately told  you  yesterday  about  the  footprints, 
when  he  heard  that  Miss  Hobson  had  been  discovered, 
and  suddenly  realising  that  if  Miss  Hobson  recovered 
her  memory,  the  whole  thing  would  come  out,  he 
did  it  with  a  view  to  change  of  plans." 

Shepperton  looked  at  the  Vicar  with  a  wry  sort 
of  smile,  as  much  as  to  say,  "  Now  then  !  " 

"  Just  so,"  replied  the  Vicar  quickly.  "  My 
answer  to  you  is  here,  contained  in  this  letter." 
He  started  to  open  it  with  nervous  fingers,  and  was 
about  to  hand  it  to  the  detective,  when  Constance 
said  in  an  undertone  : 

"  You  had  better  read  it,  Phihp." 

Her  brother  nodded,  and  began  : 

"•Storton  Manor,  Storton, 
May^  19 — . 

*' '  Dear  Alletson, — Further  to  our  conversation 
this  afternoon,  either  my  friend  Agar  Halfi  or  myself 
would  be  very  willing  to  deal  with  Miss  Hobson's 
malady,  and  attempt  to  restore  her  memory,  should 
it  be  agreeable  to  all. 

"  *  I  suggest  this,  partly  because  a  lot  of  money  may 
be  wasted  in  useless  advice,  and  partly  because  I 
know  that  there  is  only  one  reliable  method  of  dealing 
with  such  cases,  and  that  I  learnt  in  the  East. — Yours 
sincerely,  H.  A.  Brentwood.'  " 

THE   DECISION    OF   THE   "COMBINE"    237 

"  Now  if  your  last  surmise  is  correct,  Mr.  Canning, 
why  should  the  Master  of  Storton  write  this  letter, 
offering  to  help  to  bring  about  the  very  result  that 
would  be  his  undoing  ?  " 

"  Simply  that  he  has  no  intention  of  really  trying 
to  restore  Elsie's  memory,  and  would  conduct  some 
tom-fool  experiment  just  to  deceive  us,"  blurted 
out  Shepperton. 

The  Vicar's  face  flushed  a  little,  but  he  restrained 
himself  admirably,  and  for  a  time  no  one  spoke. 
The  silence  was  getting  a  little  uncomfortable,  when 
Constance  remarked  coldly  : 

"  Don't  you  think  we  are  straining  the  point 
somewhat  ?  " 

Her  remark  brought  Canning's  eyes  to  her  face, 
and  a  sort  of  a  smile  wrinkled  his  countenance  as 
he  replied : 

"  Perhaps  we  are  getting  a  little  into  the  clouds. 
I  think  that  your  brother  is  justified  in  his  argument, 
though  of  course  there  is  the  possibility  of  what 
has  been  said  on  the  other  side.  But  apart  from 
both  points  of  view,  we  have,  I  understand,  a  very 
serious  piece  of  evidence  from  Miss  AUetson,  which 
is  to  my  mind  of  great  value  in  this  particular  case, 
in  fact  it  comprises  the  only  evidence  we  at  present 
have  against  the  Master  of  Storton  •  and  on  that 
alone — ^speaking  professionally — I  should  be  bound 
to  watch  the  gentleman,  until  his  innocence  was 
proved  beyond  doubt." 

"  And  it  is  because  of  that  evidence,  and  what 
I  have  gone  through,  that  I  cannot  recommend  that 
Mr.*  Brentwood  be  allowed  to  deal  with  Elsie,"  ex- 
claimed Constance,  in  a  steady  voice. 


Shepperton  gave  her  a  grateful  glance.  "And 
I  certainly  should  not  care  about  it,"  he  added. 

"  Have  you  thought  that  you  may  be  throw- 
ing away  the  means  of  restoring  Miss  Hobson's 
memory  ?  "  ejaculated  the  Vicar. 

"  I  have,  Philip,"  replied  Constance,  "  and  because 
of  that,  I  suggest  that  there  could  scarcely  be  any 
harm  in  allowing  Mr.  Agar  Halfi  to  treat  the 
case  !  " 

"  Really,  Miss  Alletson — "  began  Shepperton, 
but  she  interrupted  him  defiantly  : 

"  Why  not  ?  If  we  are  all  there  at  the  time,  I 
don't  see  that  any  harm  can  be  done." 

With  a  sigh,  he  looked  appealingly  at  the  detective, 
who  was  coolly  examining  a  piece  of  china  which 
he  had  picked  up  from  a  small  table  at  his  elbow. 

"Mr.  Canning,  please!"  he  exclaimed  a  little 

Without  looking  up  from  what  he  was  doing,  the 
detective  answered  : 

"  The  lady's  reasoning  is  good,  Mr.  Shepperton." 

Here  he  nearly  lost  his  temper.  In  a  sense  he 
felt  at  bay ;  they  were  all  three  of  an  opinion  contrary 
to  his  own,  and  he  was  mortified  as  well  as  angry. 

"  But  I  most  emphatically  protest  !  "  he  said 

No  one  answered  his  remark,  and  in  his  annoyance 
Shepperton  felt  ready  to  rush  out  of  the  room  and 
never  speak  to  any  of  them  again.  But  it  did  not 
take  him  long  to  crush  that  impulse. 

Things  were  again  beginning  to  get  painful,  when 
the  detective  calmly  said  : 

"  Of  course,  Mr.  Shepperton,  you  can  try  other 

THE   DECISION    OF   THE   "COMBINE"     239 

means  of  restoration,  but  I  am  bound  to  say  that 
what  Mr.  Brentwood  insinuated  in  his  letter  about 
waste  of  money  is  probably  correct.  Are  you 
aware  that  cases  of  lost  memory  in  the  ordinary 
course  of  things  have  to  right  themselves,  or  not  at 
all  ?  Nobody  seems  to  know  how  to  deal  with 
them.  Judging  from  what  Mr.  AUetson  told  me  a 
short  time  ago,  it  may  be  worth  trying,  provided 
conditions  satisfactory  to  ourselves  could  be  ob- 

"There  is  no  doubt  about  their  skill  in  these 
matters,"  exclaimed  the  Vicar. 

Shepperton  could  hardly  suppress  a  sneer  as  he 
said  to  himself,  "  No,  there  isn't  !  " 

He  did  not  like  the  idea  at  all,  and  fought  against 
it  for  some  time,  but  eventually  the  weight  of  the 
detective's  reasoning  influenced  him,  and  he  ac- 
quiesced, though  reluctantly. 

"  Shall  I  make  the  arrangements,  Mr.  Shepper- 
ton ?  " 

"  Please,  if  you  don't  mind,"  returned  the  latter. 
"  I  hope  sincerely  that  it  will  turn  out  a  success, 
though  I  really  cannot  bring  myself  to  think  so." 

"  From  what  I  know  of  Mr.  Agar  Halfi,  I  am 
sanguine  of  success,"  said  Constance  encouragingly. 

"  Thank  you.  Miss  AUetson,"  he  returned  quickly, 
then  added  : 

"Please  do  not  think  me  ungrateful;  nobody 
could  have  done,  nor  is  doing,  more  for  me  than  you 
and  your  brother,  and  I  fully  appre " 

"  Don't,"  said  AUetson  warmly,  putting  his  hand 
on  the  other's  arm.     "  We  quite  understand." 

They  shook  hands,  and  Constance  and  her  brother 


watched  the  two  men  go  down  the  path,  until  they 
disappeared  outside  the  gate. 

Turning  to  her  brother,  she  said  in  a  low 
voice  : 

"  I  wonder  what  will  be  the  end  of  all  this  ?  " 
He  shook  his  head  gravely,  as  he  replied  : 
"  It  is  difficult  to  say,  but  I  trust  God  will  guide 
our  actions,  and  lead  us  into  clear  waters."  Saying 
which,  he  went  slowly  to  his  own  room,  and  for 
several  minutes  stood  looking  out  of  the  window 
across  the  garden.  Then  going  to  his  desk,  he  sat 
down  and  wrote  the  following  letter  : 

"The  Vicarage,  Worlstoke. 
May  19 — . 

"  Dear  Brentwood, — It  has  been  agreed  to  en- 
trust Elsie  Hobson's  case  to  your  Hindoo  friend.  If 
you  will  be  so  kind  as  to  let  me  know  when  you 
can  arrange  for  the  experiment  to  take  place,  I  will 
inform  the  others.  So  that  there  shall  be  no  doubt 
about  your  presence  (I,  personally,  should  strongly 
object  to  your  absence)  I  suggest  that  the  place 
selected  be  the  Manor.  Please  forgive  the  liberty 
I  take ;  candidly,  I  think  it  best,  and  I  know  I  can 
talk  frankly  to  you. 

"  For  your  guidance,  I  had  better  say  that  there 
will  be  present  from  here  :  Mr.  Shepperton ;  a  friend 
of  his,  Mr.  Canning  ;  my  sister  Constance  and  my- 
self ;  and  of  course  there  will  be  yourself,  Mr.  Agar 
Halfi,  and  Miss  Hobson. 

"  With  every  earnest  wish  that  things  may  soon 
straighten  themselves  out, — Beheve  me,  your  sincere 
friend,  Philip  Alletson." 


After  reading  it  over  carefully,  he  addressed  an 
envelope,  and  put  the  letter  in  it.  He  was  about 
to  seal  it,  when  he  hesitated,  and  taking  the  letter 
out,  went  to  find  Constance.  She  read  it  over  twice 
and  handed  it  back  in  silence.  Then  she  gave  vent 
to  a  queer  little  laugh. 

"  Won't  it  do  ?"  he  asked  abruptly. 

"  Oh  yes,  Phihp,"  she  answered ;  "  it  is  not  that, 
but  I  can't  help  thinking  that  while  we  suspect 
Mr.  Brentwood  of  such  terrible  things,  it  is  a  bit 
mean  to  make  all  the  use  of  him  we  can.  If  he  is 
innocent,  I  shall  never  be  able  to  look  him  in  the  face, 
for  very  shame." 

Her  brother  silently  sealed  the  letter,  he  did  not 
know  what  to  answer — and  taking  a  stamp  from 
his  pocket-book,  fixed  it  on  the  envelope  with  a 
determined  blow  of  his  fist.     At  last  he  exclaimed  : 

"  Constance,  I  know  he  is  innocent !  " 

"  Phihp,  I  know  he  is  not  !  " 

They  looked  at  each  other  almost  defiantly,  then 
they  both  smiled,  and  Constance  impulsively  kissed 
him,  a  thing  which  was  not  customary  with  her. 

"  We  cannot  afford  to  quarrel,  Philip,  even  though 
we  hold  different  opinions,  but  I  wish  I  could  think 
the  same  as  you  do  !  " 



It  was  just  past  two  o'clock  the  next  afternoon, 
when  Constance — ^who  was  busy  writing  notices 
for  a  Church  Workers'  Committee — ^heard  a  motor 
stop  outside  the  gate.  Shortly  afterwards,  heavy 
footsteps  resounded  on  the  gravel  path,  and  the 
next  moment  there  was  a  ring  at  the  bell. 

She  wondered  who  it  could  be — Mr.  Brentwood  ? 
Hardly.  Then  who  was  it  ?  Her  unspoken  question 
was  answered  by  Martha  opening  the  door  and 
informing  her  that  the  dark  gentleman  from  the 
Manor  had  called. 

Constance  was  pleasantly  surprised.  Ever  since 
the  night  of  her  dream  she  had  been  cogitating  how 
she  could  get  to  see  Agar  Halfi,  and  now  the  problem 
had  been  solved  for  her  by  his  unexpected  call. 

"  Show  him  in,  please,"  she  said  quickly. 

Her  blood  pulsed  a  little  faster  while  she  waited. 
She  remembered  the  last  time  he  had  called,  how 
interesting  had  been  their  conversation,  and  she 
was  conscious  of  a  sense  of  satisfaction  at  meeting 
him  again. 

As  he  entered  the  room.  Agar  Halfi  saluted  her 
respectfully  in  his  dignified  way,  and  at  her  request 
slowly  took  a  seat. 

"  I  understand  Mr.  AUetson  is  out  ?  "  he  inquired. 

"  Yes,"  replied  Constance,  "  and  I  do  not  expect 

%  242 


him  back  until  late,  that  is,  tea-time.  Can  I  be 
of  any  assistance  ?  " 

Why,  she  did  not  know ;  but  as  soon  as  he  had 
entered  the  room,  Constance  felt  a  soothing  influence 
come  over  her,  which  had  the  effect  of  making  her 
forget  all  the  small  worries  of  life.  It  was  similar 
to  the  influence  which  was  always  with  her  brother, 
only  in  a  much  greater  degree.  It  occurred  to  her 
as  being  a  little  curious,  knowing  that  the  Hindoo 
was  not  a  Christian.  She  had  always  associated 
such  power  with  the  Church,  and  to  find  that  it  was 
present,  and  in  a  greater  degree,  in  a  non-Christian, 
set  her  thinking.  Her  quick  brain  immediately 
grasped  that  if  this  influence  could  be  possessed  by 
a  non-Christian,  her  idea  that  it  belonged  to  the 
Church  was  wrong.  Then  to  what  was  it  due  ? 
She  did  not  know  that  it  was  obtained  by  inward 
development  of  faculties  of  which  the  great  majority 
of  people  are  unconscious,  and  that  in  her  brother's 
case,  he  had  in  a  small  degree  unconsciously  de- 
veloped them,  and  in  spite  of  the  Church  !  Then 
it  struck  her  that  at  one  time  she  had  thought 
Mr.  Brentwood  possessed  the  same  kind  of  power, 
and  as  she  thought  over  it,  she  realised  that  he  still 
possessed  it,  though  her  consciousness  of  it  had  been 
totally  obscured  by  that  other  terrible  symptom 
he  exhibited. 

"  I  think  I  can  quite  well  transact  my  business 
with  you,  Miss  AUetson,"  replied  the  Hindoo.  "  I 
have  called  in  reply  to  the  letter  your  brother  wrote 
to  Mr.  Brentwood  yesterday." 

"  Quite  so,"  she  answered;  "  I  am  fully  aware  of 
its  contents." 


"  Well,"  he  continued,  "  Mr.  Brentwood  has  left 
the  matter  in  my  hands  entirely,  and  his  house  is 
at  my  disposal,  any  time  I  think  fit." 

"  That  is  good  of  him,"  she  exclaimed,  then  added : 
"  And  you — will  you  do  it  ?  " 

The  shadow  of  a  grim  smile  crossed  the  Oriental's 
face  as  he  said  : 

"  Yes,  I  will,  and  I  will  only  make  one  condition." 

"  And  that  ?  "  queried  Constance,  holding  her 

"  Is  that  all  the  people  who  have  been  concerned 
in  this  case  are  present  during  the  time  I  am  carrying 
out  my  work." 

She  breathed  again,  and  replied  in  a  cheerful 
tone  : 

"  I  feel  that  I  must  thank  you  on  behalf  of  Mr. 
Shepperton  and  my  brother,  and  I  do  so  most 
sincerely  on  my  own  account." 

He  inclined  his  head  in  acknowledgment,  and 
repUed : 

"  I  called  in  person.  Miss  Alletson,  partly  because 
it  is  simpler  to  make  arrangements  verbally  than 
by  letter,  and  partly  because  I  wish,  if  I  may,  to  see 
Miss  Hobson,  so  that  I  shall  know  exactly  how  to 
prepare  for  the  experiment." 

"  There  is  no  difficulty  about  that — I  will  take 
you  to  her.  She  was  asleep  about  half  an  hour  ago, 
but  may  be  awake  now." 

Elsie  Hobson  was  reclining  in  an  easy-chair  in 
the  breakfast-room,  and  opened  her  eyes  at  the 
sound  of  them  entering.  She  sat  up  wonderingly, 
with  a  perplexed  expression  on  her  pretty  face. 
Constance  went  to  her,  and  said  encouragingly  : 


"  Elsie,  this  gentleman  is  going  to  make  you 

The  girl  turned  her  eyes  to  the  Hindoo,  who  was 
standing  just  inside  the  door,  with  a  softened  ex- 
pression on  his  usually  set  features,  and  looked  at 
him  earnestly ;  then,  as  if  satisfied  with  her  scrutiny, 
she  said  to  Constance  in  a  puzzled  tone  : 

"  Why,  I  am  not  ill,  am  I  ?  " 

"  No,  dear,"  replied  Constance  soothingly.  "  Not 
now,  but  you  have  lost  your  memory,  and  this 
gentleman  is  perhaps  going  to  restore  it." 

"  Oh,  I  see,"  she  answered  absently. 

Agar  Halfi  advanced  to  her  chair,  and  taking  one 
of  her  listless  hands  in  his,  spoke  to  her  gently.  She 
looked  at  him  simply,  like  a  child,  and  as  her  eyes 
met  his,  he  stopped  speaking,  holding  her  with  his 
glance.  Just  for  a  second,  she  shrank  as  if  frightened, 
then  a  flash  of  intelligence  crossed  her  face,  and  she 
exclaimed  eagerly  : 

"  Yes,  I  know,  I  met  you  ...  in  ...  "  she  paused, 
mystified,  a  look  of  disappointment  on  her  coun- 
tenance, and  then  continued  wearily,  "  Oh,  I  cannot 
just  remember  where  !  " 

"  Never  mind,"  he  said  in  a  low  voice,  "  you  will 
later  on.     There  is  plenty  of  time." 

She  nodded  as  if  satisfied,  though  her  eyes  never 
left  his  face.  Agar  Halfi  gazed  at  her  steadily 
for  several  minutes,  while  Constance  watched  with 
deep  interest.  Gradually  Elsie's  eyes  seemed  to 
glaze,  a  film  appeared  over  the  dark  pupils,  then, 
with  a  restful  sigh,  she  closed  her  eyes,  and 
sank  back  in  her  chair  as  though  in  a  peaceful 


"  She  is  in  the  hypnotic  sleep,"  explained  the 
Hindoo,  "  from  which  she  will  awake  in  an  hour. 
Keep  her  as  quiet  as  possible  during  the  next  two 
days,  please,  and  do  not  let  her  eat  any  meat,  nor 
take  any  stimulant." 

"  I  understand,"  replied  Constance,  "  and  will 
carry  out  your  instructions.  What  day  have  you 
fixed  for  the  experiment  ?  " 

"Friday  evening,  at  seven  o'clock;  that  is,  the 
third  day  from  now,  Tuesday." 

"  Very  well.  Now  will  you  please  come  back  to 
the  drawing-room,  there  is  something  about  which 
I  want  to  ask  you  before  you  go  ?  " 

With  a  last  look  at  the  sleeping  girl,  he  rose  and 
followed  Miss  AUetson  out.  When  they  were  again 
seated,  she  looked  straight  at  him  and  said  : 

"  Mr.  Agar  Halfi,  a  few  days  ago  I  had  a  similar 
dream  to  the  one  I  related  to  you  the  last  time  you 

Here  she  noticed  that  a  quick  look  of  interest 
came  into  his  eyes,  but  he  did  not  speak,  so  she 
continued  : 

"  And  I  should  hke  to  tell  you  all  about  it." 

"  Tell  me  what  you  wish,"  he  answered  in  his 
grave  way. 

She  paused,  as  if  to  collect  her  thoughts,  and 
then  frankly  and  clearly  related  all  that  she  had 
seen  and  heard  in  her  vision.  While  she  spoke, 
his  dark  solemn  eyes  never  left  her  face,  and  when 
she  had  finished,  she  instinctively  returned  his  gaze, 
while  she  waited  for  him  to  reply. 

"  Your  dream,  needless  to  say,  deals  with  yourself 
principally,  but  it  also   deals  with  the  '  Worlstoke 


Mystery.'  From  it,  I  read  that  the  matter  will 
be  cleared  up  before  the  moon  is  on  the  wane,  but 
whether  this  moon  or  the  next,  I  cannot  say.  How 
it  will  be  settled,  it  is  not  given  to  us  to  know,  but 
you  may  clearly  understand  that  you  will  be  con- 
cerned in  it.  In  the  working  out  of  your  life  on  the 
physical  plane,  this  mystery  in  some  way  forms  one 
of  the  obstacles,  which,  if  you  fail  to  overcome  it, 
will  retard  your  development  perhaps  for  centuries  ! 
But  in  the  mystery  you  are  not  one  of  the  principal 
individuals,  you  are  only  drawn  into  it  through 

"The  first  symbol  of  the  vision,  the  figure  18, 
is  that  of  destruction,  and  needs  no  further  explana- 
tion. The  second  symbol,  the  figure  22,  is  that  of 
the  perfect  state,  or  the  harmony  of  oneself  with 
the  universe.  But  understand  that  the  overcoming 
of  this  present  obstacle  will  not  take  you  straight 
away  to  that  plane.  No  person  living  on  the  earth 
could  attain  perfection  straight  away. 

"  The  advice,  '  Be  true  to  yourself,'  if  properly 
understood,  is  all  that  is  necessary  for  you  to 

While  she  listened,  it  seemed  to  Constance  as  if  her 
eyes  were  opened,  and  she  realised  that  which  before 
she  had  only  believed.  The  man  who  sat  before 
her  was  a  Mystic,  one  of  that  little  known  and  less 
understood  section  of  humanity,  which,  devoting 
itself  to  the  advancement  of  the  world  through  the 
Occult,  had  made  their  labours  effective  in  the  evolu- 
tion of  life,  though  not  generally  recognised.  She 
had  read  of  such  men  once  or  twice,  but  to  her 
knowledge  had  not  met  one  before. 


"  Can  you  tell  me  anything  of  that  which  is  to 
be  revealed  to  me  ?  " 

"  No,  on  that  point  I  must  not  speak." 

She  looked  at  him  steadily,  as  he  answered,  and 
his  deep  dark  eyes  seemed  to  glow  with  a  strange 
light.  Then,  instantaneously,  almost  before  she 
knew  it  had  happened,  she  was  conscious  that  she 
beheld  the  man,  the  true  inner  self,  radiating  with 
a  soft  white  fire,  so  dazzling,  that  it  seemed  to  scorch 
her  through  and  through. 

With  a  startled  cry,  she  hid  her  face  in  her  hands, 
and  in  that  moment,  she  suffered,  and  understood 
how  small,  how  feebly  flickered  the  undeveloped 
spark  of  life  which  was  her  conscious  self.  As  she 
realised  this,  the  vastness  of  the  eternal  universe 
gripped  her  mind, — ^how  insignificant  she  was,  how 
helpless  ! 

"  Save  me !  "  she  cried  wildly,  "  Save  me !  "  and 
the  echo  reverberated  like  thunder  in  the  lonely 
darkness,  "  Save  me  !  "  "  Save  me  !  "  as  though 
mocking  her  pitiful  cry. 

She  felt  a  strong  hand  grasp  her  own,  and  a  friendly 
tender  voice  said  : 

"  Save  yourself,  child." 

Then  she  regained  normal  consciousness,  and 
knew  that  she  was  sitting  in  a  chair,  staring  tran- 
quilly at  Agar  Halfi,  who  sat  with  legs  crossed,  his 
hands  clasping  his  knee,  looking  at  her  intently. 

"  What  has  happened  ?  "  she  asked  absently, 
"  Ah  !  I  remember,  you  were  interpreting  my  dream, 
and  all  at  once  I  forgot.     Had  you  finished  ?  " 

"  I  have  nothing  more  to  say  concerning  it,"  he 
replied.    "  Have  you  anything  you  wish  to  ask  ?  " 


Constance  shook  her  head,  and  looked  meditatively 
at  the  carpet.  Then  impulsively  she  raised  her 
head  and  exclaimed : 

"  Tell  me,  Mr.  Agar  Halfi,  what  is  the  meaning  of 
life  ?  Sometimes,  as  I  go  through  its  details  day 
by  day,  a  great  fear  presses  on  me  that  after  all 
we  are  but  helpless  atoms,  drifting  in  a  vast  scheme, 
and  that  our  self-conscious  individuality  is  but  a 
phantasm,  non-existent !  " 

A  great  sorrow  came  into  his  face  as  he  re- 
plied : 

"It  is  quite  impossible,  Miss  AUetson,  for  any 
human  being  to  answer  your  question.  What  you 
express  is  the  cry  of  your  real  self,  seeking  escape 
from  its  clay  prison,  the  narrow  walls  of  which  can 
no  longer  satisfy  your  inward  growth.  So  sure  as 
all  individuals  must  some  time  or  other  save  them- 
selves, so  surely  must  they  find  the  answer  to  that 
question,  by  their  own  efforts.  The  physical  in- 
dividuality cannot  explain  it — the  brain  has  its 
limits,  and  to  our  reason  such  a  question  is  impossible 
of  reply." 

"  Then  must  each  one  struggle  to  gain  his  or  her 
salvation,  every  one  fight  selfishly  for  themselves  ? 
That  is  what  your  answer  seems  to  imply." 

"  Just  the  reverse.  I  am  not  a  Christian,  Miss 
Alletson,  yet  I  will  quote  from  the  Bible  in  support 
of  what  I  say  :  '  Whosoever  shall  seek  to  save  his 
Ufe  shall  lose  it;  and  whosoever  shall  lose  his  hfe 
shall  preserve  it.'  It  is  only  by  sacrificing  oneself  in 
the  service  of  humanity  that  salvation — or  more  truly 
speaking  the  upward  development  of  the  conscious 
self — can  be  achieved  !  " 


"  But,  Mr.  Agar  Halfi,  life  in  general  is  not  based 
upon  such  lines.  The  sordid  struggle  for  material 
gain  dominates  humanity,  and,  based  on  reason, 
humanity  says  :  "  It  is  the  law  of  nature,  this 
'survival  of  the  fittest,'  and  therefore,  we  being 
part  of  nature,  are  bound  by  it." 

"  What  you  say  is  largely  true,  the  trend  of  the 
world  to-day  is  for  material  gain.  But  surely,  if 
slowly,  humanity  is  finding  out  its  mistake,  and 
though  to-day  civilisation  is  based  on  wrong  con- 
ceptions and  little  understood  laws,  it  will  not 
always  be  so.  We  are  discovering  that  instead  of 
having  to  abide  by  the  laws  of  nature,  we  are  here  to 
subdue  nature  to  our  will.  Mankind  has  changed, 
compared  with,  say,  4000  years  ago,  changed  with 
the  knowledge  and  powers  it  has  gained,  and  will 
continue  to  do  so,  until  the  ideas  of  to-day  are 
largely  reversed." 

"  You  speak  emphatically,"  answered  Constance, 
"  as  though  you  knew  for  certain  !  " 

"  I  can  only  speak  from  my  own  knowledge," 
he  replied  simply.  "  From  where  I  stand,  I  can 
see  the  mistakes  of  to-day,  as  surely  as  present 
mankind  can  see  and  profit  by  the  mistakes  of  its 

Constance  listened  intently,  wondering  at  this 
strange  man,  and  she  smiled  to  herself  as  she  thought 
that  he  was  the  servant  of  an  English  gentleman. 
There  was  something  queer  about  that,  which  she 
felt  she  would  like  to  know.  But  then,  it  was  not 
her  business  to  inquire. 

"  When  you  say,  '  From  where  I  stand,'  I  am 
afraid  I  do  not  comprehend." 


"  That  is  difficult  for  me  to  explain,  Miss  AUetson, 
yet  if  I  say  to  you  that  the  more  spiritually  developed 
a  human  being  becomes,  the  less  does  he  require 
material  things,  then  have  I  told  you  all.  For  as 
humanity  becomes  more  spiritual,  so  will  material 
things  of  the  earth  become  of  little  importance. 
Is  it  not  a  fact  that  the  most  spiritual,  the  grandest 
and  most  beloved  figure  in  Christianity,  thought 
less  of  the  things  of  the  world  than  anyone  ?  He, 
the  Master  Magician  !  " 

"  Of  course  you  speak  of  Jesus  of  Nazareth  ?  " 
she  said  in  a  low  voice,  then  added  :  "  And  why  do 
you  speak  of  Him  as  *  The  Master  Magician  '  7  " 

"  Simply  because  He  had  greater  control  over  the 
forces  of  nature  than  any  man  ever  had  before  Him, 
and  so  far  ever  has  had  !  " 

"  You  speak  of  Him  as  a  man ;  don't  you  think 
he  was  Divine  ?  " 

The  Hindoo  shrugged  his  shoulders,  with  a  little 
gesture  of  despair : 

"  We  are  all  divine.  Miss  Alletson,  in  that  sense." 

There  was  a  pause — Constance  did  not  want  to 
pursue  the  matter  any  further  just  then.  What  the 
Hindoo  had  said  gave  her  much  food  for  thought, 
and  she  would  think  things  out  at  her  leisure. 

At  length  she  said  : 

"  Let  me  see,  you  said  Friday  was  the  day  you 
had  fixed  for  the  experiment  ?  " 

"  Yes,"  he  answered,  "  at  seven  o'clock  in  the 
evening,  at  the  Manor.  Mr.  Brentwood  will  come 
over  with  his  car,  and  take  you  all  there.  I  shall 
not  be  able  to  come,  owing  to  the  preparations  I 
must  make  beforehand." 


"  Do  you  think  you  will  succeed  ?  " 

He  smiled  strangely,  as  he  replied  : 

"  I  have  not  many  doubts,  Miss  Alletson,  and 
yet  I  fear  trouble ;  why,  I  cannot  say.  Now  I  think 
I  have  said  all  that  is  necessary,  and  I  will  depart." 

Rising,  he  wished  her  good  afternoon,  but  before 
he  reached  the  door  Constance  arrested  his  atten- 
tion : 

"  Oh,  Mr.  Agar  Halfi,  I  really  forgot  to  tell  you. 
The  last  time  you  came  here,  you  will  remember, 
I  was  very  much  out  of  sorts,  and  you  told  me  that  I 
should  feel  better  before  three  o'clock  in  the  after- 
noon. Well,  it  was  so.  I  felt  practically  recovered 
about  an  hour  after  lunch.  Please  accept  my 
sincere  thanks." 

"  For  what,  Miss  Alletson  ?  "  he  asked  question- 

She  hesitated  a  little,  then  said  frankly,  "  Well,  I 
feel  sure  that  it  was  you  who  did  me  good,  in  some 

"  I  apologise,"  he  answered  quickly,  "  I  was  not 
thinking.  I  understand  now.  It  is  true  that  in- 
directly I  cured  your  indisposition,  but  I  had  for- 
gotten it." 

"  How  indirectly  ?  "  she  queried. 

"  You  were  suffering  from  a  slight  shock,  which  de- 
prived you  of  normal  vitality,  left  you  run  down,  and 
listless.  Coming  in  contact  with  my  surroundings, 
and  there  being  a  sympathetic  link  between  us,  I 
naturally  gave  forth  from  my  reserve,  of  which 
there  is  a  considerable  quantity,  and  you  as  natur- 
ally absorbed  it.  Simply  that,  and  nothing  else 


She  looked  at  him  astonished,  so  he  continued  : 

"  It  is  easy  of  proof.  Miss  AUetson — give  me  your 
hand  for  a  moment." 

She  did  as  he  asked,  and  slowly,  but  surely,  she 
was  conscious  of  increased  energy ;  she  felt  stronger, 
more  vigorous. 

"  Do  you  feel  any  change  ?  " 

"  Yes,  I  do ;  it  is  wonderful.  How  pleasant  to 
have  power  to  relieve  suffering  hke  that  !  " 

The  Hindoo  smiled  queerly,  as  he  answered  in  a 
low  voice  : 

"  Yes,  but  it  can  be  used  for  other  purposes — it 
is  strong  enough  to  kill !  " 

"  Kill  ?  "  she  whispered  in  an  awed  voice. 

But  Agar  Halfi  had  gone,  and  the  next  moment 
she  heard  the  motor  car  drive  slowly  away. 



Herbert  Canning  had  arranged  to  be  at  the  Vicar- 
age at  6.30  P.M.  on  Friday,  the  day  the  attempt 
was  to  be  made  to  restore  Miss  Hobson's  memory. 
The  matter  was  of  personal  interest  to  him,  apart 
from  his  professional  obligation.  He  had  dabbled 
in  astrology,  had  some  notion  of  planetary  influence, 
and  indeed  only  lack  of  opportunity  had  kept  him 
from  studying  other  occult  things. 

What  knowledge  he  had  gained  in  astrology  had 
been  acquired  by  practical  experiments,  the  theory 
of  it,  like  that  of  anything  else,  not  being  satisfactory 
to  a  matter-of-fact  nature  like  his.  He  preferred 
that  sort  of  proof — certainly  the  most  convincing — 
to  any  reasoning  that  could  be  extracted  from  books. 

It  would  be  well  if  there  were  more  people  in  the 
world  of  the  same  turn  of  mind.  As  it  is,  most  of 
us  allow  a  few  to  do  our  thinking,  i.e.  do  not  think 
at  all,  while  most  of  the  few  only  think,  and  never 
experiment,  which  after  all  is  the  only  sound  way 
to  acquire  knowledge. 

As  the  detective  walked  leisurely  along,  he  was 
turning  over  in  his  mind  the  following  facts  : 

(i)  Rev.   Thornton   disappeared   21st   February, 
at  the  full  moon. 
(2)  Miss  Hobson  disappeared  4th  April,  at  the 

new  moon. 



(3)  Rev.  AUetson  had  strange  experience  19th 
April,  at  the  full  moon. 

(4)  Herbert  Canning  had  strange  experience  3rd 
May,  at  the  new  moon. 

(5)  To-day,  an  imusual  experiment  taking  place, 
i6th  May,  at  the  full  moon. 

Now  that  is  queer,  he  thought.  I  should  hardly 
think  it  could  be  coincidence  that  the  date  of  this 
affair  should  have  been  fixed  by  that  Hindoo  gentle- 
man when  the  moon  is  at  the  full !  If  there  is  any- 
thing in  my  theory  at  all,  something  will  happen 
to-night,  the  same  as  things  have  happened  before 
at  these  periods. 

He  analysed  it  for  some  time,  as,  being  a  practical 
man,  he  was  very  anxious  not  to  delude  himself. 
He  knew  that  his  knowledge  of  astrology  was  super- 
ficial, but  what  he  had  learned  had  been  gained 
by  practical  experience,  and  he  was  interested. 
Further,  the  tabulated  facts  would  be  useful  for 
study  in  his  leisure  moments. 

During  his  long  and  varied  experience,  he  had  seen 
numerous  so-called  occult  manifestations,  most  of 
which,  he  had  satisfied  himself,  were  mere  trickery. 
But  on  one  or  two  occasions  he  had  witnessed  things 
which,  analyse  as  he  would,  had  appeared  to  him 
genuine,  and  he  had  not  allowed  prejudice  to  con- 
demn everything  wholesale, 

He  was  fully  aware  that  it  is  usually  those 
who  are  ignorant  of  a  subject  who  vilify  and  con- 
demn it.  Indeed  he  had  read  about  a  famous 
astronomer  who  had  attacked  and  tried  to  ridicule 
astrology.    All  went  well  until  a  colleague,  who  had 


carefully  studied  astrology,  clearly  demonstrated  to 
the  astronomer  that  he  was  making  himself  look 

What  he  had  experienced  at  the  priory  ruins 
was  a  problem  sufficient  to  make  the  most  sceptical 
think  seriously.  On  the  one  hand,  as  Mr.  Shepperton 
had  suggested,  it  probably  was  trickery.  That, 
however,  was  simply  a  statement,  against  which 
he  could  reasonably  put  the  following : 

Firstly,  he  was  personally  satisfied  that  no  trickery 
could  have  caused  the  sickly,  paralysing  fear  that 
had  gripped  him. 

Secondly,  the  footprints,  if  a  fake,  were  the 
cleverest  thing  of  the  kind  he  had  seen. 

Thirdly,  it  was  difficult  to  point  to  any  object 
in  committing  the  crimes.  The  only  possible  motive 
could  be  blood-lust,  and  if  he  were  any  judge  of 
character,  neither  the  Master  of  Storton  nor  the 
Hindoo  were  criminals  of  that  type. 

Fourthly,  Miss  AUetson's  evidence,  if  a  fact, 
pointed  to  something  very  grave  indeed.  Either 
the  Master  of  Storton  was  a  new  type  of  criminal, 
or  else — ^what  ? 

Mr.  Canning  shook  his  head,  it  was  beyond  his 
understanding  at  present.  Still,  that  last  item 
constituted  the  only  real  evidence  against  Mr. 
Brentwood.  This  he  had  intimated  to  Mr. 
Shepperton,  who  did  not  seem  over-pleased  at 
the  conclusion;  but  then,  the  detective  had 
seen  pretty  plainly  from  the  beginning  that 
that  gentleman  was  suffering  from  bias,  no  doubt 
caused  by  the  shock  he  had  received.  They 
could  have  as   many  suspicions  as  they  pleased; 


the  only  thing  that  would  trouble  Mr.  Canning  was 

Just  before  he  reached  the  Vicarage,  he  was 
passed  by  a  motor-brougham,  which  slowed  up  at 
the  gate,  and  he  at  once  concluded  that  the  driver 
was  Mr.  Brentwood.  In  this  he  was  correct,  and 
a  few  minutes  later  he  was  being  introduced  to  him 
by  the  Vicar. 

The  detective's  keen  trained  glance  took  in  every 
detail  of  the  other  man's  visible  characteristics 
while  he  wished  him  good  evening,  and  he  satisfied 
his  first  impression,  that  the  Master  of  Storton  was 
not  of  the  criminal  type  so  far  as  he  knew;  but, 
like  his  Eastern  servant,  had  a  strong  personality, 
and  would  be  a  very  difficult  man  with  whom  to 
have  trouble,  being  a  type  that  would  fight  to  the 

What,  however,  mystified  the  detective  more  than 
anything  else  was,  that  he  could  not  help  being 
drawn  to  the  man,  in  the  same  way  that  he  had  felt 
drawn  to  the  Hindoo  ! 

It  was  a  very  solemn  and  quiet  party 'that 
drove  off  a  few  minutes  later.  Constance  and 
Elsie,  with  the  Vicar  and  Shepperton,  occupied  the 
brougham,  while  the  detective  sat  beside  Brentwood 
in  front. 

The  latter  drove  in  silence,  his  attention  being 
taken  up  with  his  work,  and  the  detective,  feeling 
retrospective,  did  not  disturb  him.  It  was  not 
until  negotiating  a  sharp  bend  in  the  road  that  the 
Master  of  Storton  spoke  : 

"  That  is  a  nasty  turn,"  he  remarked  quietly. 

"  Yes,  it  seems  rather  sharp,"  repUed  the  other. 



The  ice  being  broken,  Mr.  Canning  took  what 
seemed  Hke  a  plunge  : 

"  Do  you  hope  for  a  successful  result  to-night  ?  " 

Brentwood  smiled  a  little  at  the  bluntness  of  the 
question,  as  he  replied  : 

"  If  what  we  surmise  is  correct,  that  the  trouble 
is  purely  one  of  the  mind,  and  is  not  in  any  way 
caused  by  physical  disorder,  I  have  not  much  doubt 
about  the  issue." 

"  And  if  there  were  any  physical  cause  ?  " 

"  Oh,  that  would  be  quite  another  matter.  The 
experiment  in  that  case  would  be  useless." 

Further  conversation  was  not  possible,  for  by 
now  they  had  reached  the  Manor,  but  as  the  car 
stopped,  the  Master  of  Storton  said  : 

"  I  shall  probably  have  something  to  say  before 
the  experiment  takes  place,  which  will  no  doubt 
be  of  particular  interest  to  you  all." 

The  Tower  study,  which  Agar  Halfi  had  decided 
should  be  the  scene  of  his  operations,  was  a  revela- 
tion to  Shepperton  and  Canning,  when  about  five 
minutes  later  the  party  was  conducted  there,  and 
the  Vicar  was  busy  answering  questions  which  they 
put  to  him  concerning  it,  for  quite  a  time. 

As  fcfr  Constance,  as  soon  as  she  put  her  foot  in 
the  room  she  experienced  a  feeling  of  dread,  and 
almost  put  forth  both  her  hands,  as  if  to  ward  some- 
thing off.  A  slight  giddiness  overcame  her,  and 
try  as  she  would  to  shake  it  off,  the  idea  dominated 
her  mind  that  the  influence  of  some  other  presence 
pervaded  the  room,  silent,  mysterious,  evil. 

She  struggled  bravely  with  herself,  and  as  the 
thought  came  into  her  mind  of  her  responsibihty 


to  Elsie,  who  was  practically  in  her  charge,  she 
by  an  effort  partly  overcame  her  forebodings,  and 
stepped  firmly  into  the  study. 

The  east  window  was  open,  and,  with  a  feeling 
of  relief,  she  quietly  went  to  it  and  looked  out,  in- 
haling the  fresh  night  air  with  satisfaction.  She 
tried  to  compose  herself,  repeating  in  her  mind  how 
silly  it  was  to  be  upset  by  her  imagination,  but  her 
limbs  trembled  beneath  her,  and  gladly  would  she 
have  fled,  but  for  her  sense  of  duty. 

She  gazed  abstractedly  at  the  rising  moon,  now 
appearing  over  the  hills,  and  noticed  that  it  was 
tinged  red,  with  the  last  rays  of  the  setting  sun. 
It  fascinated  her  fancy,  and  for  a  time  her  thoughts 
wandered  dreamily.  All  at  once  it  occurred  to  her 
that  the  apparent  blood-redness  of  the  moon  was 
an  ominous  sign.  Was  there  going  to  be  a  tragedy 
at  the  experiment  to-night  ?  She  instinctively 
clasped  her  hands  together,  then  the  moon  ap- 
peared to  sway  to  and  fro;  she  mechanically 
grasped  the  casement,  and  by  a  supreme  effort  of 
will,  saved  herself  from  fainting. 

How  long  she  stood  gaining  control  over  her 
physical  organism  she  did  not  know,  but  a  gentle 
pressure  on  her  arm  caused  her  to  start  slightly. 
Turning,  she  looked  into  the  serious  but  kind  face 
of  her  brother,  who  said  in  a  low  tone  : 

"  My  dear  Constance,  are  you  all  right  ?  They 
may  think  you  are  neglecting  Elsie  !  " 

"  I'm  so  sorry,  Phihp,  I've  been  dreaming,"  she 
answered  with  a  faint  smile,  and  then  she  at  once 
went  over  to  Miss  Hobson. 

The  study  had  been  carefully  arranged  for  the 


occasion,  and  even  AUetson,  who  knew  it  well, 
was  surprised.  The  north  wall,  which  he  always 
remembered  as  being  covered  with  a  great  hanging 
curtain,  had  disappeared,  and  he  realised  that 
the  study  did  not  occupy  the  whole  space  of  the 
Tower.  There  was  a  further  room  on  the  north  side, 
which  evidently  was  only  divided  from  it  by  a 
folding  wooden  partition,  which  the  curtain  usually 
screened.  This  had  been  thrown  open,  revealing 
the  other  room,  the  floor  of  which  was  raised  about 
a  foot  above  the  level  of  the  other.  The  curtain 
had  been  transferred  to  the  further  side,  and  the 
place  gave  the  appearance  of  a  great  room,  with  a 
raised  platform  at  one  end. 

Across  the  centre  of  the  study  was  a  long  low 
table,  and  on  the  opposite  side  of  it  to  the  platform 
were  placed  several  chairs,  evidently  for  the  on- 
lookers. On  the  platform  itself,  placed  across  the 
front  eastern  corner,  was  a  long  low  couch  like  an 
ottoman,  except  that  the  head  was  only  raised 
about  a  foot  above  the  body  of  it.  Fitted  against 
it  was  a  cylindrical-shaped  cushion.  On  either 
side  was  a  brazier,  supported  on  a  metal  stand  of 
curious  Eastern  workmanship.  In  the  centre  of 
the  platform,  near  the  edge,  stood  a  small  marble- 
topped  table,  which  had  on  it  a  large  flask  and 
a  wine-glass.  A  thick  Indian  carpet  covered  the 
floor,  and  the  electric  light  from  the  brackets  on 
either  wall,  east  and  west,  was  subdued  by  violet 

Shepperton  smiled  a  little  sarcastically  as  he 
noted  the  arrangements,  and  remarked  to  the 
detective  in  a  low  voice  : 

ALMOST   A   TRAGEDY  !  261 

"  A  very  pretty  show,  eh  ?  " 

Canning  nodded,  and  repHed  a  Httle  curtly  : 

"  If  the  result  is  as  good  as  the  show,  Mr.  Shep- 
perton,  you  will  not  have  cause  to  complain." 

A  stubborn  expression  came  into  the  young 
solicitor's  eyes,  and  gripping  the  other's  arm,  he 
whispered  : 

"  If  I  see  anything  that  is  not  absolutely  straight, 
I  shall  not  hesitate  to  shoot  !  " 

The  detective,  beyond  slightly  shrugging  his 
shoulders,  did  not  reply  to  this  remark,  but  inci- 
dentally he  happened  to  be  always  on  the  side  of 
Shepperton  where  he  knew  that  gentleman  was 
carrying  a  revolver,  and  when  they  sat  down 
for  the  experiment,  he  had  not  altered  that 

During  the  short  silence  which  followed,  the 
attention  of  all  was  attracted  by  the  entrance  of 
their  host,  followed  by  Agar  Halfi.  They  looked 
in  surprise  at  the  Hindoo.  He  was  dressed  Orient- 
ally— a  large  white  muslin  turban  adorned  his  head, 
and  a  long  flowing  robe  of  the  same  colour  and 
material  almost  reached  his  feet.  His  natural 
dignity  seemed  to  be  increased  by  his  native  dress, 
and  indeed  for  a  moment  it  seemed  as  if  he  might 
have  been  some  Eastern  potentate  being  received  in 
a  strange  court,  so  noble  did  he  look.  But  he  him- 
self at  once  dispelled  the  thought,  by  the  natural 
ease  with  which  he  conducted  himself. 

Accompanied  by  the  Master  of  Storton,  he  as- 
cended the  platform,  and  stood  with  folded  arms 
between  the  couch  and  the  table  in  the  centre. 
Brentwood  went  to  the  other  side,   and  in  his 


cold  measured  way  addressed  the  others  who  were 
sitting  in  the  study  : 

"  To-night  I  feel  it  incumbent  upon  me  to  intro- 
duce to  you  my  friend  and  companion,  Mr.  Agar 
Halfi,  in  a  new  light.  Hitherto  you  have  known 
him  simply  as  a  servant  of  my  household.  That  in 
a  sense  is  true,  but  the  position  is  one  of  his  own 
making,  and  his  reasons  for  it  I  do  not  consider 
it  necessary  to  discuss.  Suffice  it  that  in  his  own 
country  Mr.  Agar  Halfi  is  a  doctor  of  medicine  ■ 
more,  he  is  a  master  of  the  occult.  I  mention  these 
facts,  in  order  to  settle  any  uneasiness  that  might 
have  been  felt  with  regard  to  his  ability  to  deal 
with  Miss  Hobson's  case. 

Mr.  Agar  Halfi  has  been  my  close  friend  for  many 
years,  and  I  have  absolute  trust  in  his  honour  and 
integrity.  If  it  is  at  all  possible  to  restore  to  Miss 
Hobson  her  memory,  he  will,  I  am  certain,  be  able 
to  accomplish  it.  The  worth  of  my  words  will,  I 
trust,  be  proved  later  on  this  evening. 

Now  on  that  point  I  would  like  to  say  a  word  or 
two  before  Mr.  Agar  Halfi  proceeds  to  experiment. 

Miss  Hobson's  disorder  is  understood,  and  rightly 
so,  to  be  a  case  of  lost  memory.  Such  a  thing  could 
arise  from  three  causes  :  firstly,  by  a  physical  injury 
to  the  brain ;  secondly,  by  a  shock  to  the  nervous 
system ;  and  thirdly,  by  a  psychic  obsession  of  the 
mind.  The  latter  cause  I  can  best  explain  by 
mentioning  that  little  understood  state  of  what  is 
called  trance.  No  doubt  all  of  you  have  heard  of 
people  being  thrown  into  such  a  condition — some- 
times for  weeks  and  weeks — which  has  baffled  all 
medical  skill.      In  most  cases,  the  entranced  persons 


have  been  found  to  be  perfectly  healthy  physi- 
cally, have  taken  food  regularly,  and  have  eventu- 
ally regained  normal  consciousness,  apparently  little 
the  worse  for  their  strange  experience.  The  law 
which  governs  this  phenomenon  is  little  understood 
in  Western  civilisation,  except  in  so  far  as  it  relates 
to  hypnotism,  but  in  the  East  it  is  not  only  under- 
stood, but  can  be  produced  at  will.  In  Miss  Hobson's 
case,  we  have  the  testimony  of  Dr.  Trestlewood 
that  she  is  in  ordinary  physical  health,  and  that 
there  is  no  external  injury  to  the  brain. 

It  is  evident  that  she  first  suffered  a  shock  to 
the  nervous  system,  followed  almost  immediately  by 
a  state  of  trance,  similar  to  that  into  which  I  was 
cast  when  in  Afghanistan,  the  difference  between 
the  two  incidents  being,  that  I  recovered  normal 
consciousness,  whereas  Miss  Hobson  has  not.  In 
other  words,  the  obsessio^  in  her  case  has  not  left 
her,  in  my  case  it  did 

Here  he  faltered,  and  a  bewildered  look  came  over 
his  handsome  face,  as  though  some  unknown  pre- 
sence had  given  him  the  lie  direct ;  but  recovering 
himsdl  almost  immediately,  he  concluded  : 

"  Mr.  Agar  Halfi  will  now  attempt  to  remove  that 
obsession  by  a  method  known  only  in  the  East,  and 
there  by  but  a  few.  Please  keep  as  quiet  as  possible  ; 
it  is  essential  that  no  disturbing  element  should 
irritate  the  psychic  conditions  of  the  room  during 
the  experiment." 

Having  thus  spoken,  Brentwood  asked  Constance 
if  she  would  take  Elsie  to  Mr.  Agar  Halfi,  and  then 
sat  down. 

With  a  word  of  encouragement,  Constance  clasped 

264         AGAR   HALFI   THE   MYSTIC 

Elsie  by  the  hand,  and  escorted  her  to  the  couch  on 
the  platform.  As  soon  as  she  had  seen  her  com- 
fortably seated,  she  turned  to  the  Hindoo  and 
whispered : 

"  Did  you  notice  Mr.  Brentwood  falter  when 
speaking  ?  " 

"  Yes,  and  I  feel  that  a  crisis  is  at  hand.  But 
compose  yourself.  Miss  Alletson,  and  remember  the 
advice  given  to  you  in  your  dream.  I  will  guard 
you ! " 

As  he  spoke,  he  looked  steadily  into  her  eyes,  and 
Constance  felt  new  strength  enter  her  soul. 

"  Thank  you,"  she  answered  simply,  "  I  will 
remember,"  and  then  she  quietly  returned  to  her 

The  Hindoo  silently  switched  off  all  the  Hghts  in 
the  study,  leaving  only  the  shaded  ones  on  the  plat- 
form undisturbed.  Then  striking  a  match,  he  applied 
it  to  each  brazier,  on  either  side  of  the  couch.  Sud- 
denly a  thin  straight  column  of  green  smoke  began 
to  ascend  from  the  one  on  the  east  side,  shortly 
followed  by  a  column  of  red  smoke  from  the  other, 
filling  the  air  with  a  faint  aromatic  perfume. 
Quietly  turning  to  the  table  in  the  centre,  Agar 
Halfi  opened  the  flask  which  was  upon  it,  and  poured 
some  of  its  contents  into  a  wine-glass.  This  he 
proffered  to  Miss  Hobson,  asking  her  in  a  gentle 
voice  to  drink  it.  She  took  it  mechanically,  put  it 
to  her  lips,  and  tasted  it.  Evidently  it  was  to  her 
liking,  for  she  immediately  drank  it  up. 

Taking  the  glass  from  her  fingers,  the  Hindoo 
returned  it  to  the  table ;  then  going  back  to  the 
couch,  stood  silently  looking  at  his  patient.     Sud- 


denly  she  rose  quickly,  and  extending  her  arms 
toward  him,  gave  a  Httle  cry  of  pleasure,  but  in- 
stantaneously, almost  before  the  cry  had  escaped  her 
lips,  her  expression  altered,  the  colour  fled  from  her 
face,  and  with  a  sigh  she  fell  back  on  the  couch  •  her 
head  dropped  forward,  her  limbs  relaxed,  her  hands 
appeared  listless,  and  it  was  apparent  that  she  had 
lost  consciousness. 

Very  gently  the  Hindoo  placed  her  full  length 
on  the  couch,  her  head  resting  on  the  cushion  at 
its  head,  and  she  seemed  to  be  just  in  a  peaceful 
sleep.  He  looked  at  her  intently;  gradually  the 
colour  left  her  lips,  then  her  cheeks,  the  regular 
heave  of  her  bosom  became  slower  and  slower,  until 
it  apparently  ceased  ;  her  features  grew  set,  like  wax, 
and  at  last  she  was  to  all  appearances,  dead  I 

Unnerved,  Shepperton  drew  in  a  sharp  breath, 
and  would  have  started  up  from  his  chair,  had  not  a 
grip  on  his  arm,  which  hurt,  held  him  down,  while 
the  low  clear  voice  of  the  detective  whispered  quickly 
in  his  ear  : 

"  Silence,  man ;  would  you  kill  her  ?  " 

Satisfied,  Agar  Halfi  stepped  back,  and  stood  with 
folded  arms  staring  rigidly  just  behind  the  head  of 
the  couch,  which,  owing  to  the  position  of  the  shades 
on  the  hghts,  was  in  deep  shadow.  All  eyes  followed 
his  gaze,  and  as  they  looked,  a  faint  vaporous  mist 
appeared,  as  though  drawn  from  the  body  of  the 
prostrate  girl,  and  collecting  just  behind  her  head, 
hung  about  two  feet  above  the  third  brazier,  flicker- 
ing feebly  with  a  dull  grey  light. 

Apparently  content,  the  experimenter  turned  his 
attention  to  the  other  two  vessels,  from  which  were 


now  ascending  two  steady  flames  of  red  and  green 
fire.  Lifting  the  brazier  on  his  left  from  the  stand, 
he  emptied  its  contents  into  the  empty  one  at  the 
head  of  the  couch,  then  did  the  same  thing  with  the 
other.  Immediately  there  issued  a  dense  white 
mist,  soon  followed  by  a  tall  column  of  white  fire, 
which,  glowing  with  a  soft  bright  light,  shot  up  into 
the  air,  and  seemed  to  completely  devour  the  dull 
mist  suspended  above  it. 

This  continued  for  about  a  minute,  then  gradually 
a  change  came  over  the  scene.  The  fire,  which  had 
completely  left  the  brazier,  now  appeared  to  become 
absorbed  by  the  mist,  which  still  hung  over  the 
silver  vessel,  and  was  glowing  brilliantly  in  the 
surrounding  shade. 

With  quick,  deft  hands,  the  Hindoo  drew  away 
the  brazier  from  under  the  mist,  and  silently  going 
to  the  foot  of  the  couch,  stretched  forth  his  arms 
over  Elsie's  still  form,  as  though  trying  to  reach 
the  fire  at  the  other  end  of  the  couch  with  his  finger- 
tips. For  fully  five  minutes  he  stood  thus,  while 
the  others  looked  on  in  wondering  apprehension. 
Gradually  the  bright  light  above  Miss  Hobson's  head 
began  to  stream  down  toward  the  Hindoo's  hands, 
and  slowly  he  stepped  back  little  by  little,  as  though 
drawing  the  fire  with  him,  until  it  completely  en- 
veloped the  whole  of  the  couch.  It  remained  like 
this  for  some  time,  then  it  grew  less,  and  less,  until 
it  had  entirely  disappeared  ! 

Not  until  the  white  fire  had  completely  vanished, 
did  Agar  Halfi  move,  then  going  to  the  left  side  of 
the  couch,  he  took  the  girl's  Hstless  hands  in  his  own, 
and  stood  gazing  at  her  face  with  steady,  flashing 


eyes.  This  he  continued  to  do  for  some  minutes, 
and  at  last  a  faint  shade  of  colour  tinged  her  cheeks ; 
then  gradually  the  rise  and  fall  of  her  breast  denoted 
that  she  was  breathing,  and  in  a  short  time  she 
again  appeared  to  be  in  an  ordinary  peaceful  sleep. 

Something  like  a  sigh  of  relief  went  up  from  the 
others,  when  they  saw  that  the  patient  had  assumed 
a  more  life-like  expression.  Turning  toward  them, 
Agar  Halfi  said  calmly  : 

"  I  have  finished.  It  now  only  remains  for  me 
to  awaken  Miss  Hobson,  and  then  we  shall  know 
whether  or  not  the  experiment  has  been  successful. 
It  would  be  as  well  if  Miss  AUetson  will  come  and  sit 
by  her,  so  that  when  she  regains  consciousness  she 
may  have  somebody  near  whom  she  knows." 

Constance  looked  at  Arthur  Shepperton  hesitat- 

"  Yes,  please  go,"  he  said. 

With  quick  steps,  she  went  and  sat  on  the  side 
of  the  couch,  and  took  the  unconscious  girl's  hand 
in  her  own.  Agar  Halfi  went  to  the  other  side  of 
the  couch,  and  looked  steadily  into  Elsie's  face  for 
about  a  minute ;  then  he  turned  to  Constance,  and 
saying  quickly : 

"  In  ten  seconds  she  will  awaken,"  went  and  stood 
by  the  curtain  which  hung  on  the  north  wall. 

Elsie  opened  her  eyes  with  a  blank  expression; 
then  feeling  that  someone  had  hold  of  her  hand, 
turned  her  head  to  look.  For  a  moment  she  gazed 
as  though  surprised,  and  during  that  brief  space  of 
suspense,  Constance's  heart  almost  ceased  to  beat. 

"  Where  am  I,  Miss  Alletson  ?  " 

As  she  spoke,  Constance  felt  her  heart  jump,  then 

268         AGAR   HALFI   THE   MYSTIC 

with  an  effort  she  controlled  her  feehngs,  though 
a  look  of  joy  came  over  her  face. 

"  You  have  been  very  ill,  Miss  Hobson ;  don't  you 
remember  ?  " 

"  Well,  I  have  some  idea  about  it,  but  where 
am  I  ?  " 

"  Do  you  feel  all  right  ?  " 

"  Oh  yes."  Saying  which,  she  sat  up  and  looked 
around.  The  next  moment  she  rose  quickly,  and 
exclaiming,  "  Arthur !  "  went  over  to  her  lover,  who 
had  risen  to  meet  her. 

There  was  a  lump  in  his  throat,  and  his  eyes  were 
wet,  as  he  took  her  hand.  In  a  voice  strange  with 
emotion  he  said : 

"  Then  you  know  me,  Elsie  ?  " 

"  Know  you  ?  Of  course  I  do,  dear,"  and  she 
looked  at  him,  surprised.  "  But  where  are  we, 
Arthur  ?  I'm  bewildered ;  what  has  happened  ?  " 

It  was  as  much  as  he  could  do  to  answer  co- 
herently, so  great  was  his  joy.  "  We  are  at  the 
Manor,  Elsie  j  you  lost  your  memory,  and  it  has 
been  restored  to  you.  Come,  let  me  introduce  you 
to  the  gentleman  who  has  so  successfully  carried 
through  the  experiment.  Mr.  Agar  Halfi,"  he  cried 
warmly,  "please  come  and  be  thanked  by  your 
patient,  and  me,  indeed  by  us  all." 

Thus  addressed,  the  Hindoo  advanced  slowly 
from  where  he  was  standing,  and  Constance  formally 
introduced  him  to  Elsie  Hobson,  who,  after  looking 
at  him  wonderingly,  thanked  him  quietly. 

"It  is  all  so  strange,"  she  said,  "  I  hardly  know 
what  to  make  of  it ! ' 

"  That  will  soon  be  all  right,  Miss  Hobson,"  re- 


plied  the  Vicar  kindly,  "  and  now,  let  me  introduce 
you  to  Mr.  Brentwood,  our  host.  I  don't  think 
you  have  met  him  before." 

A  strange  silence  fell  on  them  all,  as  AUetson 
spoke.  Each  felt  that  a  critical  moment  had  arrived, 
and  in  particular,  Constance  had  a  sensation  of 
sickness,  similar  to  that  which  sometimes  fore- 
warns one  of  danger.  Would  or  would  she  not  say, 
"  That  man  is  the  culprit !  " 

"Mr.  Brentwood,  please." 

The  Master  of  Storton,  who,  since  the  time  he 
had  sat  down  after  speaking,  had  not  moved  from 
his  chair,  rose  when  the  Vicar  called  his  name,  and 
advanced  to  them  along  the  platform,  while  they 
moved  forward  to  meet  him. 

"  I  am  very  pleased  to  make  your  acquaintance, 
Miss  Hobson,"  he  said  courteously,  "  and  doubly 
pleased  to  know  that  you  are  now  quite  recovered." 

He  spoke  quite  collectedly,  without  any  trace 
whatever  of  conscious  guilt,  and  certainly  Canning 
— ^whose  eyes  never  left  his  face — ^was  satisfied  that 
if  the  Master  of  Storton  was  not  an  innocent  man, 
he  had  never  seen  one  before. 

Elsie's  face  flushed  with  pleasure,  as  she  returned 
her  thanks,  and  she  smiled  up  into  his  face.  But 
as  her  eyes  met  his,  the  smile  died.  She  took  two 
or  three  short,  sharp  breaths,  a  look  of  terror  crossed 
her  face,  and  then,  with  a  shriek,  she  turned  and 
fled  blindly  into  the  arms  of  the  detective,  who 
was  standing  about  two  yards  away. 

"  Save  me  1  "  she  moaned.     "  Save  me  !  " 

They  all  rushed  to  her,  wonder-stricken  j  then  their 
attention  was  arrested  by  a  cry  of  rage  from  Arthur 


Shepperton,  who  was  looking  fixedly  at  the  platform. 
Following  his  eyes,  they  stood  spellbound  at  what 
they  saw. 

Standing  with  clenched  hands,  a  look  of  intense 
agony  on  his  face,  was  the  Master  of  Storton,  par- 
tially enveloped  in  a  green  mist,  while  his  eyes 
scintillated  with  a  fierce,  cruel  look.  So  great  was 
the  change  in  his  features,  that  it  was  almost  im- 
possible to  recognise  the  usually  calm,  handsome 
face,  which  looked  diabolical,  with  the  short  dark 
hair  standing  up  on  end. 

Gradually  the  mist  completely  enveloped  his 
figure,  and  out  of  the  vapourish  folds,  two  awful 
eyes  began  to  glow,  with  a  terrible,  malignant  gleam, 
that  has  never  been  seen  in  human  gaze.  Instinc- 
tively Canning,  who  knew  at  once  that  what  he 
now  beheld  was  the  same  as  the  manifestation  in 
the  priory,  placed  himself  in  front  of  the  half -fainting 
girl,  who  had  rushed  into  his  arms  ;  but  beyond  that 
he  could  not  stir,  indeed  a  terrible  silence  filled  the 
room.  So  powerful  was  that  hellish  influence,  that 
all  of  them  stood  horror-stricken,  unable  to  move. 

Constance  Alletson  knew  now  what  it  was  that 
had  upset  her.  That  which  she  had  seen  in  Mr. 
Brentwood's  eyes  during  the  experiment  at  the 
Manor  was  the  evil  now  manifesting  before  them, 
the  mysterious  horror  which  had  killed  Mr.  Thornton, 
and  very  nearly  killed  Elsie  Hobson.  She  gazed  in  a 
fascinated  manner,  she  felt  weirdly  calm,  and  then 
all  at  once  she  became  aware  that  those  dreadful 
orbs  were  looking  at  her  alone.  She  felt  sick,  and 
a  feeling  of  intense  loathing  passed  through  her. 
Then  something  seemed  to  call,  attract  her ;  what 


it  was  she  could  not  tell,  but  it  appealed  to  some- 
thing deep  down  in  her  nature,  in  a  way  which  she 
had  never  understood  before.  All  she  could  realise 
was  that  it  was  evil,  and  much  as  she  knew  she 
hated  it,  she  felt  she  was  held  by  its  power.  She 
moved  forward  one  step,  then  another,  and  with 
helpless  horror,  those  other  spectators  of  this 
strange  scene  saw  that  she  was  slowly  being  drawn 
toward  the  awful  thing  on  the  platform. 

Nearer  and  nearer  she  drew,  and  it  seemed  as  if 
another  tragedy  was  to  be  enacted,  when  all  at  once 
the  silence  was  broken  by  a  deep  growl,  and  there 
emerged  from  underneath  the  long  table  fixed 
across  the  room,  right  between  the  helpless  woman 
and  the  horror  on  the  platform,  Brentwood's  dog, 
Hector ! 

At  first  he  stood  looking,  whimpering  as  with 
terror,  and  he  backed  away  right  up  against  Con- 
stance's dress,  and  stood  shivering  as  with  an  ague. 
Whether  it  was  the  touch  of  the  woman,  or  what,  it 
is  not  possible  to  say  ;  anyhow,  the  dog's  attitude 
suddenly  changed  ;  his  hair  bristled,  his  eyes  flamed, 
and  with  a  deep  bay  he  gave  one  mighty  spring, 
straight  at  those  cruel,  evil  eyes. 

There  followed  a  horrible  chuckling  screech,  which 
ceased  instantaneously,  as  though  cut  off  by  a  sharp 
human  cry.  Constance  heard  it,  as  one  in  a  dream  j 
it  sounded  to  her  as  if  someone  had  been  hurt. 
Then  all  at  once  she  became  fully  conscious.  With 
a  sharp  breath,  she  clutched  her  breast  as  she  felt  a 
pain  at  her  heart,  just  as  if  she  had  been  stabbed, 
only  a  thousand  times  more  poignant .  That  voice  she 
knew,  it  was  Mr.  Brentwood's,  and  heedless  of  all 


else,  she  started  to  run  forward,  but  stumbled  against 
the  raised  floor,  and  fell.  She  was  on  her  feet  in  a 
moment,  and  as  she  rose  she  saw  Agar  Halfi  leap  on 
to  the  platform.  The  next  moment  there  was  a 
quick  blinding  glare,  which  lighted  up  the  room, 
followed  by  a  crackhng  sound ;  the  green  mist 
seemed  to  spread  everywhere,  then  gradually  the  air 
cleared,  and  Constance  saw  dimly  the  figure  of  the 
Hindoo  kneeling  over  the  prostrate  body  of  the 
Master  of  Storton,  who  lay  white  and  still,  his  neck 
and  left  shoulder  covered  with  blood,  which  slowly 
dripped  down  on  the  carpet.  Beside  him  crouched 
the  dog,  shivering  and  whining,  and  Ucking  his 
master's  hand,  as  though  in  grief  at  what  he  had 

Instantly  she  was  there,  and  as  she  approached 
she  heard  Agar  Halfi  exclaim  in  a  stricken  voice  : 

"  My  master,  my  beloved  friend,  speak  to  me  ! 
Oh  !  I  fear  I  have  annihilated  him  also  !  " 

"  No,  not  that !  "  The  Hindoo  looked  up  me- 
chanically, to  meet  Constance's  eyes,  filled  with  a 
new  fear,  her  face  very  pale  and  drawn.  "  Do  not 
say — ^he  cannot  be  dead  !  " 

But  no  hope  was  to  be  read  from  the  Hindoo's 
stony  countenance.  Regardless  who  saw  her,  Con- 
stance went  down  on  her  knees,  and  clasped  the 
limp  fingers  of  the  stricken  man. 

"  Dead  !  Dead  !  "  she  moaned  brokenly.  What 
did  anything  matter  now  that  his  hfe  had  gone  ? 
Too  late  she  knew,  murderer  or  anything  else,  that 
she  loved  him,  and  in  her  newly  created  grief  she 
madly  asked  that  she  could  die  also. 

The  next  moment   she  stared,  wonder-stricken. 


His  eyes  had  opened,  and  he  was  looking  at  her  in  a 
strange  bewildered  way. 

"  No,  not  yet,"  he  said  slowly,  then  fainted  right 
away.  Agar  Halfi  gave  an  exclamation  of  joy,  and 
leaping  to  his  feet  said  : 

"  He  lives,  and  there  is  hope  !  " 

A  firm  grasp  on  her  arm  brought  Constance  to  her 
senses,  and  the  next  minute  her  brother  raised  her 
from  the  ground. 

"  Come,"  he  said  in  a  hard  voice.  He  felt  keenly 
what  his  sister  had  revealed  to  them  all.  "  Come, 
Constance,  while  we  remove  Mr.  Brentwood  to  his 

Very  carefully  they  carried  the  unconscious  man 
to  his  bedroom  beneath  the  study.  There,  the 
Hindoo  summoned  Mrs.  Breton,  and  after  teUing 
her  not  to  inform  the  rest  of  the  servants,  explained 
that  the  master  had  had  a  serious  accident,  and  bid 
her  obtain  water  and  bandages.  It  took  but  a  few 
minutes  to  fetch  what  was  necessary,  and  having  con- 
signed Constance  and  Elsie — the  latter  having  fairly 
recovered  from  her  last  shock — to  the  housekeeper's 
care.  Agar  Halfi,  with  the  aid  of  the  other  men,  cut 
away  Brentwood's  upper  garments  and  carefully 
dressed  the  wounded  shoulder,  which  he  found  to  be  a 
severe  fracture,  caused  by  the  dog's  formidable  jaws. 

When  he  had  almost  finished,  he  stopped  suddenly 
and  exclaimed  in  a  low  voice  of  surprise,  "  Look  !  " 
at  the  same  time  pointing  to  the  unconscious  man's 
exposed  throat. 

They  all  drew  nearer,  wondering,  then  almost  with 
one  voice  they  exclaimed  : 

"  The  scar  !  "  .  .  .    It  had  turned  blood-red  ! 



It  need  hardly  be  said  that  the  joy  of  Mrs.  and  Mr. 
Hobson,  at  having  their  daughter  restored  to  them, 
was  unbounded.  At  one  time  they  had  never  ex- 
pected to  see  her  again,  and  their  dehght  at  her 
discovery  had  been  almost  dashed  away  when  they 
found  that  she  did  not  recognise  them.  But  now 
all  was  well  once  more  in  their  household. 

As  for  Arthur  Shepperton,  he  lost  the  careworn 
appearance  that  had  characterised  him  for  the  last 
month,  and  again  became  the  cheerful,  energetic 
young  man  that  everybody  had  known,  before  the 
shadow  of  tragedy  had  fallen  upon  him. 

But  one  of  the  actors  in  this  weird  drama  had  not 
any  cause  for  joy.  The  day  following  that  terrible 
experience  at  Storton  Manor,  Constance  Alletson 
stood  at  the  garden  gate,  gazing  despondently  before 
her.  Now  that  she  had  had  time  to  think,  she 
realised  with  deep  dismay  what  she  had  done. 

Never  in  her  wildest  dreams  had  she  thought  a 

time  would  come  when  she  would  expose  to  others 

that  which,  at  all  costs,  should  have  remained  locked 

in  her  soul's  safe  keeping.     To  have  done  that  was 

unfortunate  enough  ;  but  it  was  not  her  only  fear  ; 

what  if  he  had  understood  ?     She  hoped  and  prayed 

that  the  Master  of  Storton  had  not  divined  her 

secret,  as  she  fully  knew  the  others  had  done,  and 


"THE   WRITING   ON   THE   WALL"       275 

the  fact  that  he  had  been  barely  conscious  at  the 
time  brought  some  reUef  to  her  tortured  mind. 

This,  then,  she  reflected,  was  the  secret  of  her 
existence  which  in  her  dream  the  spirit  of  the  priest 
foretold  should  be  revealed  to  her.  This :  that  life, 
which  hitherto  had  been  pleasant  enough  if  not 
exactly  joyous,  was  now  bereft  of  every  vestige  of 
colour.  Indeed,  so  hopeless  did  the  outlook  appear 
that  she  almost  despaired  of  being  able  to  face  it. 

She  suffered,  as  many  others  have  done,  the  tor- 
ture of  hopeless  affection,  and  understood  only  too 
well  the  terrible  truth  of  those  world-known  lines  : 

"  Tis  better  to  have  loved  and  lost 
Than  never  to  have  loved  at  all." 

True,  she  had  not  lost  in  a  strict  sense,  but  to  know 
that  her  whole  self  was  consumed  in  one  other,  and 
that  that  other  had  never  shown  her  a  single  favour, 
worse,  that  he  was  looked  upon  and  known  as  a  cold, 
selfish  individual,  was  as  good  as  to  have  lost. 

Only  too  well  she  now  realised  the  dominating 
power  of  the  eternal  flame.  Its  awakening  had 
brought  a  crowd  of  dim  recollections  to  her  mind. 
It  was  not  new,  this  love,  it  had  only  slumbered 
unconsciously  in  her  heart  since  some  long-forgotten 

And  it  was  no  girl's  fancy  that  possessed  her,  no 
fleeting  passion  of  the  flesh.  It  was  the  all-powerful, 
self-sacrificing  love  of  a  mature  woman,  who  knew 
her  own  heart  well  enough  to  understand  that  it 
meant  everything,  her  very  life. 

Oh,  the  agonising  sweetness  of  it  all !  Despair- 
ingly she  realised  that  either  she  must  live  the  rest 


of  her  life  with  that  one  man,  or  else — ah,  go  right 
away,  and  mercilessly  crush  down  her  nature ;  she 
would  have  to  take  the  veil.  No,  there  was  another 
alternative — she  could  die !  She  shuddered  as  she 
thought  of  it.  She  felt  conscious  that  she  had  no 
right  to  take  her  own  life ;  and  yet,  she  reflected, 
why  not  ?  If  life  were  to  become  a  pain,  could  she 
be  expected  to  endure  it  ? 

With  a  sigh,  she  turned,  and  walking  slowly  into 
the  house,  threw  herself  on  to  a  couch.  Burying  her 
face  in  her  arms,  she  tried  to  forget,  and  worn  out 
with  many  an  hour's  weary  vigil,  she  fell  into  a 
restful  sleep.  Sleeping,  she  dreamed  that  a  pair  of 
cold  brown  eyes  looked  into  her  own,  searching  her 
very  soul ;  and  looking,  they  changed,  gradually 
growing  warm,  then  tender.  As  she  gazed  into  their 
mysterious  depths,  she  seemed  to  read  the  secret  of 
the  soul  behind  them.  Surely  eternal  love  shone 
there  ?  Her  own  spirit  responded  to  the  call,  and 
she  was  aware  of  an  ecstasy  such  as  she  had  never 
known  before. 

Before  leaving  the  Manor  on  the  night  of  the  ex- 
periment, Mr.  AUetson  had  arranged  that  they 
should  all  meet  at  the  Vicarage  the  following 
Monday,  to  further  discuss  the  position  of  affairs. 

To  this  meeting  Constance  had  looked  forward 
with  a  certain  amount  of  dread.  She  did  not  wish 
to  meet  anyone  ;  naturally  she  shrank  from  coming 
in  contact  with  people  who  understood  the  position 
in  which  she  was  placed.  But  she  was  not  a  weak- 
ling, and,  somewhat  to  her  brother's  surprise,  she 
had  decided  to  be  present ;  indeed,  she  had  resolved 
to  face  the  matter  out  to  the  bitter  end. 

"THE   WRITING   ON   THE   WALL"       277 

To  her  relief,  Philip  had  not  so  much  as  spoken  a 
word  upon  the  subject  of  her  distress.  On  the  other 
hand  she  was  conscious  of  his  deep  sympathy,  and 
though  she  hardly  realised  it  at  the  time,  she  knew 
later  that  she  would  probably  have  sunk  under  the 
weight  of  her  despair,  but  for  her  brother's  un- 
spoken support. 

It  was  a  very  serious  and  solemn  party  that 
gathered  at  the  Vicarage  on  the  Monday  afternoon. 
The  Vicar  sat  at  the  head  of  the  table  ;  on  his  right 
hand,  was  the  Hindoo  mystic;  on  his  left  the  de- 
tective ;  while  further  down  on  either  side  sat  Miss 
Hobson  and  Arthur  Shepperton,  Constance  faced 
her  brother  at  the  foot  of  the  table. 

When  they  were  all  seated,  Mr.  AUetson  said  : 

"  As  you  all  know,  we  are  gathered  here  this 
afternoon  to  see  if  we  can  in  some  satisfactory  way 
clear  up  this  mystery.  To  that  end,  I  am  going  to 
express  the  wish  that  everyone  will  be  quite  frank  in 
what  they  say,  and  withhold  nothing  that  they  know, 
so  that  the  whole  position  up  to  the  present  may  be 
made  clear  to  us  all.  Unless  you  wish  to  adopt 
some  other  form  of  procedure,  I  propose  first  of  all 
to  ask  Mr,  Agar  Halfi  to  state  what  he  knows  about 
this  evil  thing." 

When  he  was  in  deadly  earnest,  the  Vicar  had  a 
certain  impressive  way  of  speaking,  and  the  nod 
of  approval  which  Shepperton  gave,  caused  a  glint 
of  amusement  to  enter  the  detective's  eyes.  The 
day  after  the  scene  at  Storton  Manor,  it  had  taken 
him  fully  three  hours  to  prevent  his  client  from 
having  Brentwood  arrested,  and  even  when  they 
sat  down  to  the  table  for  this  meeting,   Canning 


had  not  been  sure  what  attitude  Shepperton  would 

There  was  no  dissension  to  AUetson's  proposal, 
so  the  Hindoo  began  : 

"-I  am  going  to  plainly  state  all  that  I  know  con- 
cerning this  mystery  which  has  caused  us  all  so 
much  trouble.  When  I  have  done,  I  trust  it  will 
in  some  way  prove  that  my  friend  Mr.  Brentwood, 
instead  of  being  the  guilty  party  in  this  unfortunate 
tragedy,  has  been  a  more  unfortunate  victim  of  it 
than  anyone  present. 

Mr.  Brentwood  and  I  first  came  in  contact  with  it 
in  this  manner :  Some  five  years  ago,  when  acting  as 
his  lieutenant,  while  he  was  travelling  in  Eastern 
countries  collecting  facts  in  support  of  certain  theories 
he  had  in  connection  with  psychic  phenomena, 
after  a  successful  expedition,  we  encountered  this 
mysterious  thing,  in  Afghanistan,  just  before  crossing 
the  Persian  border,  on  the  way  to  England.  What 
happened  there  you  already  know,  and  the  proofs  of 
it  are  in  Mr.  Brentwood's  official  diary,  which  is  on 
the  table,  and  which,  I  understand  from  Mr.  AUetson, 
you  have  all  examined.  To  all  intents  and  purposes, 
with  the  exception  of  the  white  scar  on  his  throat, 
the  Master  of  Storton,  after  lying  in  a  trance  for 
nearly  six  weeks,  suddenly  recovered.  Shortly 
after  that,  he  came  and  settled  down  here. 

For  about  twelve  months  nothing  out  of  the 
ordinary  happened,  then,  quite  without  warning,  he 
had  a  queer  experience  one  morning  at  dawn.  He 
related  it  to  me  sometime  after  breakfast  on  the 
same  day.  He  told  me  that  he  woke  up  all  at  once, 
wide  awake,  as  if  from  sleep  ;   but  when  trying  to 

"THE   WRITING   ON   THE   WALL"       279 

switch  on  the  electric  hght  by  his  bed,  he  discovered 
it  was  not  there,  in  fact,  that  there  was  not  a  bed. 
Then  he  felt  a  floating  sensation,  next  one  of 
compression,  and  finally  he  found  himself  in  his 
night  attire,  staring  out  of  the  east  window  of  his 

Subsequently  he  suffered  these  strange  experi- 
ences at  different  intervals.  We  were  of  course 
interested,  but  could  make  nothing  of  them,  try 
as  we  would.  We  never  dreamed  that  they  could 
have  any  connection  with  the  Afghan  manifestation. 

One  day,  following  one  of  these  episodes,  came 
the  startling  news  of  the  disappearance  of  Mr. 
Thornton,  followed  a  fortnight  later  by  that  of 
Miss  Hobson.  Next,  Mr.  AUetson  had  an  imcomfort- 
able  experience  at  the  priory.  He  approached  Mr. 
Brentwood  over  the  matter,  after  giving  it  serious 
consideration,  and  they  decided  to  privately  in- 
vestigate the  matter. 

The  first  item  of  importance  occurred  when,  in 
an  attempt  to  obtain  a  clue  by  means  of  a  psychic 
experiment  carried  out  at  the  Manor,  Miss  AUetson 
— ^the  medium  of  that  experiment — ^received  a 
most  disconcerting  shock.  In  her  own  words,  she 
suffered  the  mental  horror  of  being  attacked  by 
some  influence  which  without  doubt  appeared  to 
be  part  of,  or  in  some  way  connected  with,  the 
Master  of  Storton.  I  believe  you  are  all  acquainted 
with  the  details  of  what  Miss  AUetson  went  through. 
Mr.  Brentwood,  the  operator  at  that  experiment, 
was  fully  cognisant  of  what  occurred,  and  subse- 
quently he  came  to  consult  me  about  it.  In  order 
to  test  the  thing,  he  hypnotised  the  dog  Hector, 


with  the  result  that  the  animal  showed  the  same 
symptoms  as  Miss  Alletson,  indeed,  just  when  the 
hypnotic  sleep  was  manifest,  the  dog  broke  from 
its  master's  control,  and  it  was  only  by  acute 
presence  of  mind  that  Mr.  Brentwood  prevented 
the  animal  from  attacking  him. 

Mr.  Brentwood  next  experimented  on  me,  but 
I  did  not  exhibit  any  unusual  sensations,  which 
I  put  down  to  the  fact  that  I  was,  and  am  now, 
impervious  to  the  evil,  owing  to  the  control  I  have 
over  a  certain  force,  which — curiously  enough — 
the  Master  of  Storton  and  I  discovered  almost  at 
the  same  time.  After  that,  I  hypnotised  the  dog 
quite  successfully. 

Not  many  days  later,  Mr.  Shepperton  found  Miss 
Hobson's  glove  in  the  ruins,  and,  with  the  aid 
of  Hector,  an  unsuccessful  attempt  was  made  to 
trace  her  thereby.  But  something  else  happened 
during  that  attempt — in  a  vault  in  the  ruins,  the 
body  of  Mr.  Thornton  was  discovered,  with  a  wound 
on  his  throat  which  corresponded  exactly  to  Mr. 
Brentwood's  scar,  while  beside  the  body  were 
footprints  similar  to  those  which  I  photographed 
in  Afghanistan,  after  the  terrible  experience  through 
which  Mr.  Brentwood  and  I  passed. 

What  we  learned  from  that  discovery  set  me 
thinking.  I  knew  now  that  the  evil  which  had 
killed  Mr.  Thornton  was  the  same  as  that  which 
attacked  Mr.  Brentwood  in  Afghanistan.  Further, 
I  found  that  there  was  a  similarity  between  the 
sensations  Mr.  Alletson  suffered  when  he  had  his 
strange  experience,  and  those  which  Miss  Alletson 
had  when  acting  as  the  medium  of  the  experiment 

"THE   WRITING   ON   THE   WALL"       281 

at  Storton  Manor.  It  did  not  take  me  long  to 
reason  from  this,  that  Mr.  Brentwood  was  either 
directly  or  indirectly  concerned.  That  he  was 
directly  involved,  I  never  for  one  moment  believed. 
This  conclusion  I  formed  immediately,  upon  my 
personal  knowledge  of  him.  But  I  was  quite  satis- 
fied that  he  was  indirectly  concerned,  so  I  decided 
to  watch  him  closely. 

The  next  step  in  this  strange  drama  was  an  ex- 
perience I  myself  had  at  the  priory,  in  conjunction 
with  a  stranger  who  happened  to  be  there  at  the 
same  time. 

There  was  a  manifestation  at  dusk,  in  the  form 
of  a  green^mist,  which  seemed  to  evolve  into  human 
shape.  Shortly  after,  there  was  a  dreadful  cry, 
similar  to  that  which  you  all  heard  the  other  night 
at  the  Manor,  followed  by  the  appearance  of  those 
cruel  eyes. 

When  I  got  back  to  Storton  Manor  I  was 
suspicious,  and  went  in  search  of  Mr.  Brentwood. 
Mrs.  Breton,  the  housekeeper,  said  he  had  gone  out, 
and  had  left  word  that  he  would  not  be  back  until 
late.  Now  I  have  the  Master  of  Storton's  full  con- 
fidence, so  taking  duplicate  keys,  I  went  to  his 
bedroom  at  midnight.  The  bed  was  empty,  but 
it  showed  signs  of  having  been  used,  consequently 
I  could  only  surmise  that  he  had  gone  out.  After 
carefully  searching  the  study,  I  took  the  precaution 
to  bolt  up  every  entrance  into  the  house,  with  the 
exception  of  the  private  way — only  used  by  him 
and  myself — and  by  which  I  knew  he  would  most 
probably  return.  Across  this  entrance  I  carefully 
tacked  a  piece  of  black  thread,  so  that  if  the  door 


were  opened  the  thread  would  most  certainly  be 
snapped.     Then  I  went  back  to  my  own  place. 

About  dawn  the  next  morning  I  was  awakened 
by  a  fierce  growl  from  the  dog  Hector,  who  was 
staring  fixedly  at  the  window,  apparently  at  nothing. 
I  went  out  to  look  round,  and  was  at  once  attracted 
by  a  portion  of  the  morning  mist,  which  had  a  faint 
green  tinge.  Instantly  interested  by  the  colour, 
I  followed  it,  and  to  my  surprise  it  went  through 
the  open  east  window  of  the  tower  study.  In  a 
few  minutes  it  had  cleared  away,  and  then  I  saw 
the  figure  of  Mr.  Brentwood  standing  in  his  night 
attire,  exactly  in  the  attitude  he  had  described  to 
me  so  often,  when  he  suffered  his  strange  experienced. 

I  immediately  went  to  the  private  door,  and 
found  the  thread  intact.  This  proved  to  me  that 
Mr.  Brentwood  had  not  entered  the  house  since  he 
went  out  about  six-thirty  the  previous  evening. 
But  judge  of  my  surprise,  when  I  found  that  he  was 
not  only  in  the  house,  but  asleep,  in  bed  ! 

I  knew  then,  that  in  some  way,  he  was  obsessed 
by  this  strange  evil,  but  exactly  how,  it  was  difficult 
to  say.  As  I  expected,  he  came  that  morning  after 
breakfast  and  told  me  that  he  had  had  another 
strange  experience.  I  did  not  say  much  then — I 
had  determined  to  follow  out  my  own  lifie  of  action, 
independent  of  everyone. 

After  this,  there  came  the  surprising  discovery 
of  Miss  Hobson.  When  we  heard  that  she  had  lost 
her  memory,  Mr.  Brentwood  at  once  offered  to  try 
and  restore  it.  That  he  could  have  done  so  I  have 
no  doubt,  and  it  helped  to  prove  to  me  that  he  was 
unconscious  of  his  obsession.     It  would  be  very 

"THE   WRITING    ON   THE   WALL"       283 

unlikely  that  a  criminal  would  dare  to  offer  to  re- 
store one  of  his  victims,  knowing  that  if  he  succeeded 
his  victim  might  recognise  and  denounce  him.  But 
there  were  difficulties  in  the  way.  These  Mr. 
Alletson  explained  to  him,  so  eventually  it  was 
agreed  that  I  should  make  the  attempt.  What 
happened  at  the  experiment  you  all  know,  and  I 
don't  think  it  requires  any  other  proof  to  satisfy 
any  one  of  us  that  Mr.  Brentwood  has  been,  and 
I  beheve  is  now,  obsessed  by  one  of  the  strangest 
evils  that  has  ever  been' known  in  modern  times." 

The  Hindoo  paused,  then  went  on  slowly : 

"  There  is  only  one  incident  in  the  whole  matter 
with  which  I  am  not  conversant ;  I  refer  to  Miss 
Hobson's  experience.  Perhaps  she  will  relate  to  us 
exactly  what  took  place  ?  " 

Elsie  blushed  as  all  eyes  turned  to  her,  and  looked 
questioningly  at  her  lover.  Arthur  Shepperton 
nodded  encouragingly,  so  she  began,  nervously  at 
first,  but  gaining  confidence  as  she  proceeded  : 

"  It  all  happened  so  suddenly,  that  I  have  not 
much  to  say.  I  had  been  on  a  visit  to  my  aunt's  at 
Melton  Storton  ;  and  when  returning  home  at  dusk, 
I  stopped  just  to  have  a  look  at  the  priory  ruins  in 
the  sunset.  Nobody  was  about,  and  I  think  I  must 
have  stayed  about  five  minutes.  As  I  turned  to  go, 
my  attention  was  arrested  by  an  awful  cry  which 
came  from  the  direction  of  the  priory.  It  so  horri- 
fied me  that  I  could  not  move,  and  I  felt  sick  and 
cold.  I  must  have  stood  like  that  for  some  time, 
and  then  again  that  call  came  to  me.  I  listened  as 
one  hypnotised,  and  how  it  happened  I  do  not 
know ;    but  I  began  to  walk  towards  the  ruins,  as 


though  compelled  to  do  so.  I  went  up  the  drive, 
through  the  doorway  in  the  wall.  As  I  approached 
the  ruined  chapel,  I  came  to  a  dead  halt,  and  my 
heart  gave  a  great  leap.  Those  terrible  eyes,  which 
we  all  saw  at  the  Manor,  were  looking  at  me.  They 
drew  nearer  and  nearer,  while  I  stood  as  though  petri- 
fied^ As  they  approached,  I  thought  I  saw  a  great  big 
bird  behind  them  ;  but  really  I  was  so  terrified  that 
I  could  not  take  particular  notice.  I  gave  a  wild 
shriek,  and  my  hand  went  to  my  heart ;  in  doing  so, 
it  clutched  the  gold  cross  that  I  always  wear. 

I  remembered  nothing  more  until  I  was  lying  on 
the  couch  in  the  room  at  the  Manor,  with  Miss 
AUetson  sitting  beside  me.  All  that  remains  for  me 
to  say  is,  that  when  Mr.  Brentwood  came  to  con- 
gratulate me  on  my  recovery,  the  moment  I  looked 
into  his  eyes,  I  experienced  the  same  dreadful  feeling 
that  upset  me  at  the  priory.  I  instinctively  felt 
that  there  was  some  terrible  evil  at  the  back  of  the 
Master  of  Storton's  mind.  That  is  what  made  me 

There  was  a  long  silence  after  Elsie  had  spoken, 
which  was  eventually  broken  by  the  Vicar  saying 
quietly  : 

"  Mr.  Agar  Halfi  has  put  the  facts  of  the  case 
before  us  so  clearly  and  so  frankly,  that  I  think  we 
owe  him  our  thanks  for  the  trouble  he  has  taken. 
I  say  this,  because  I  feel  that  the  evidence  before  us 
is  sufficient  to  prove  that  Mr.  Brentwood  is  a  victim, 
and  not  the  cause  of  the  evil.  What  do  you  think, 
Mr.  Shepperton  ?  " 

Thus  addressed,  the  young  solicitor  shook  his 
head,  with  a  queer  sort  of  smile,  then  said  : 

"THE   WRITING   ON   THE   WALL"       285 

"  I  do  not  feel  in  a  very  comfortable  position. 
To  be  quite  plain,  I  feel  small,  and  mean  !  " 

They  all  looked  at  him  with  some  surprise,  ex- 
cepting Agar  Halfi,  who  seemed  to  understand. 

"  Here  am  I,"  he  continued,  "  in  the  happy 
position  of  having  had  restored  to  me  the  lady  who 
is  to  be  my  wife,  through  the  efforts  of  friends  who 
have  unselfishly  worked  on  my  behalf  ;  and  two  of 
them  I  have  actually  suspected  of  being  the  per- 
petrators of  the  crime.  That  I  have  had  cause  to 
suspect  them  may  be  the  case  ;  but  after  what  Mr. 
Agar  Halfi  has  done,  and  after  what  I  have  heard 
to-day,  I  can  only  hope  that  he  and  Mr.  Brentwood 
will  not  bear  any  ill-feeling  toward  me  for  the  posi- 
tion I  took  up." 

The  Hindoo's  reply  was  quick  and  generous  : 

"  On  that  point,  Mr.  Shepperton,  you  may  take  it 
that  neither  Mr.  Brentwood  nor  I  have  any  ill-feeling 
toward  you;  we  both  understand  the  position.  You 
and  Miss  AUetson  had  cause  to  suspect  us,  and  in- 
deed at  one  time  I  myself  very  nearly  suspected 
the  Master  of  Storton,  so  strong  did  the  evidence 
seem  against  him." 

"  I  am  indeed  glad  to  know  that,"  responded 
Shepperton,  "  because  both  Miss  Hobson  and  I 
realise  that  but  for  you  she  would  not  be  sitting  here 
to-day.  And  now  there  is  one  thing  I  must  tell  you, 
Mr.  Agar  Halfi.  Mr.  Canning  here  is  a  private 
detective,  whom  I  called  in  to  investigate.  Almost 
from  the  beginning,  however,  he  has  not  agreed  with 
my  idea  of  things.  But  enough;  I  will  let  him 
speak  for  himself." 

They  all  looked  at  the  detective,  who,  rousing 

286  *      AGAR    HALFI    THE    MYSTIC 

himself  from  the  sprawhng  attitude  he  had  natur- 
ally slipped  into,  looked  keenly  at  the  Hindoo,  and 
said  : 

"  Mr.  Agar  Halfi  will  no  doubt  be  interested  to 
learn  that  I  can  confirm  his  remarks  about  his  ex- 
perience at  the  priory,  as  it  happens  that  I  was  the 
stranger  he  met  there." 

Agar  Halfi  looked  at  him  closely,  then  slowly 
shook  his  head.     Canning  smiled,  then  proceeded  : 

"  Of  course  you  would  hardly  recognise  me,  as  I 
was  disguised.  Let  me  now  thank  you  for  saving 
my  life  !  You  hardly  gave  me  an  opportunity  to 
do  so  at  the  time." 

The  Hindoo  looked  surprised  and  confused,  while 
the  rest  of  the  company,  who  knew  the  details  of 
the  detective's  experience,  enjoyed  the  situation. 

At  length  he  remarked  : 

"  Then  you  do  not  think  that  it  was  trickery  ?  " 

"  I  did  not  at  the  time,"  replied  the  detective, 
"  but  I  wanted  to  test  it  as  far  as  I  possibly  could, 
though  in  doing  so  I  ran  a  very  grave  risk,  as  I 
realised  afterward,  when  you  had  gone.  That  will 
explain  the  attitude  I  took  up  in  the  ruins.  Almost 
from  the  first  I  have  felt  that  the  case  was  not  a 
commonplace  one,  and  that  it  was  outside  the  sphere 
of  the  ordinary  detective.  In  any  case,  I  have  not 
seen  any  real  reason  to  suspect  the  Master  of  Stor- 
ton  as  being  the  criminal.  Indeed  the  only  bit  of 
evidence  worth  consideration  has  been  that  of  Miss 

All  eyes  instinctively  turned  to  Constance,  who  all 
through  the  meeting  had  not  spoken  a  word. 

"  May  I  ask.  Miss  AUetson,  what  your  opinion  is 

"THE   WRITING   ON   THE   WALL"       287 

now,   regarding    what   you    experienced  ?  "    asked 

Constance,  whose  cheek  was  resting  on  her  hand, 
raised  her  head  as  she  rephed  : 

"  Simply  that  I  hold  the  same  view,  except  that 
I  now  know  Mr.  Brentwood  is  innocent,  and  was 
innocent  of  the  obsession  under  which  he  is  suffering. 
I  have  no  doubt  about  what  I  suffered  at  that  ex- 
periment," she  concluded,  with  a  slight  smile. 

"  What  about  the  future,  Mr.  Agar  Halfi  ?  "asked 
the  Vicar. 

"  I  can  only  wait  and  watch  developments,  until 
Mr.  Brentwood  is  sufficiently  recovered  to  enable 
him  to  deal  with  things.  So  far,  he  is  progressing  as 
satisfactorily  as  can  be  expected — I  should  say  that 
he  will  be  convalescent  in  twelve  to  fourteen  days." 

The  meeting  now  practically  broke  up,  though  for 
some  time  afterwards  they  sat  talking  over  various 
matters.  At  last,  however,  Agar  Halfi  said  that  he 
must  get  back  to  the  Manor  to  see  how  Mr.  Brent- 
wood was  ;  he  already  felt  he  had  left  him  too  long. 

He  had  come  over  in  the  car,  and  as  he  stepped 
into  it,  he  picked  up  an  envelope  lying  on  the  seat,- 
addressed  to  himself  in  an  unknown  handwriting. 
He  glanced  at  it  casually,  then  put  if  in  his  pocket. 
Not  until  he  had  seen  the  Master  of  Storton,  and 
satisfied  himself  that  all  was  right,  did  he  think 
of  the  strange  note.  Taking  it  out  of  his  pocket, 
he  opened  the  envelope,  and  discovered  a  half  sheet 
of  note-paper.  Upon  it,  in  a  woman's  handwriting, 
were  the  words  : 

"  Watch,  and  do  not  sleep,  for  the  end  is  near." 



Agar  Halfi  stood  with  grave  eyes,  watching  the 
motionless  form  of  the  Master  of  Storton.  The 
fever  caused  by  the  wound  in  his  shoulder  had 
abated,  but  the  condition  of  the  patient  this  morning 
gave  the  Hindoo  cause  for  deep  concern. 

The  previous  evening  Brentwood  had  been  toss- 
ing restlessly  on  his  bed,  now  he  was  in  a  deep 
swoon.  In  the  ordinary  course  of  things,  after  the 
fever  had  died  down,  Agar  Halfi  knew  that  his 
patient  should  have  regained  consciousness. 

This  strange  turn  in  the  sickness  perplexed  him, 
and  the  fear  rose  in  his  mind  that  the  Master  of 
Storton  was  passing  through  yet  another  phase 
of  this  weird  mystery.  The  scar  on  his  throat  still 
retained  the  bright  colour  it  had  assumed  on  the 
evening  when  he  was  injured,  and  this  in  itself  was 
sufficient  to  cause  Agar  Halfi  to  judge  that  they 
were  not  yet  clear  of  this  evil  influence. 

When  he  used  his  power  to  attack  that  unnatural 
manifestation  in  the  study,  he  not  only  felt  that  he 
had  annihilated  it  entirely,  but  that  he  had  also 
killed  his  beloved  friend.  But  now  he  was  forced 
to  conclude  that  he  had  done  neither. 

All  day  long  he  scarcely  left  the  bedside,  watching 
ever  anxiously  for  signs  of  returning  consciousness  ; 
but  none  came,  and  toward  evening  the  patient's 

FAIL   NOT,   GREAT   WIZARD!        289 

condition  developed  into  trance.  The  Hindoo 
examined  him  closely  as  he  noticed  the  change, 
and  a  look  of  intelligent  surprise  passed  over  his 
countenance.  There  was  not  much  doubt  that  this 
trance  was  similar  to  the  one  which  Brentwood  had 
suffered  in  Afghanistan. 

For  a  space,  he  stood  thinking,  then  he  rang  for 
Mrs.  Breton.  When  she  appeared,  Agar  Halfi  held 
up  a  warning  hand,  and  her  eyes  instinctively  sought 
the  unconscious  form  of  her  master.  She  started 
slightly,  and  turned  to  Agar  Halfi  with  questioning 

"  Comphcations  have  set  in,  Mrs.  Breton,  and  the 
master  must  not  be  left  alone  at  present.  Will  you 
please  wire  to  Westsea  at  once  for  two  trained  nurses, 
and  tell  Wilhams  to  get  the  car  ready  ?  I  want  him 
to  take  a  letter." 

"  Surely  I  can  nurse  him,  in  fact  I  would  much 
prefer  to  do  so." 

"  Quite  so,"  replied  the  Hindoo,  "but  you  have 
more  than  you  can  do  at  present,  Mrs.  Breton,  and 
you  cannot  stay  with  him  day  and  night." 

The  reasonableness  of  this  was  evident,  and  she 
inchned  her  head  reluctantly.  Then  she  asked  in 
a  concerned  voice  : 

"  Is  there  any  danger  ?  " 

Agar  Halfi  shook  his  head.  "  I  don't  know  at 
present :  all  I  can  say  is  that  Mr.  Brentwood  has 
passed  into  a  strange  trance." 

She  breathed  quickly,  and  looked  at  the  Hindoo 
ciitically.  It  was  a  serious  matter  to  her,  for  the 
Master  of  Storton  was  a  good  employer,  well  hked 
by  all  who  were  in  his  service.    Still,  she  had  con- 



fidence  in  this  strange  man,  and  beyond  attending 
to  the  master  in  a  medical  capacity,  he  had  not 
interfered  with  her  in  any  way. 

"  You  were  up  all  last  night  and  have  hardly  left 
the  bedside  during  the  day ;  when  are  you  going 
to  rest  ?  " 

"  Send  for  the  nurses,  Mrs.  Breton,  and  then  I 
will  take  a  respite." 

When  she  had  left  the  room,  Agar  Halfi  went  up 
into  the  study,  and  taking  pen  and  paper  wrote 
the  following  letter: 

"Storton  Manor,  Storton. 

"  Madame, — ^The  Master  of  Storton,  after  being  ill 
from  an  accident,  has  fallen  into  a  strange  trance, 
which  I  believe  is  similar  to  the  one  which  Miss 
Hobson  suffered,  when  in  your  hospitable  hands. 

"  If  it  is  the  same,  I  must  take  immediate  action, 
for  there  is  grave  danger ;  but  before  doing  so,  I 
should  like  to  have  confirmatory  evidence  to  that 

"  I  cannot  leave  Mr.  Brentwood  at  present ;  would 
you  therefore  consent  to  come  over  in  the  car,  and 
give  me  your  opinion  as  to  whether  the  two  cases 
are  identical  ? 

"  I  humbly  apologise  for  the  hberty  I  take  in  asking 
this,  but  the  life  of  the  Master  of  Storton  is  in  the 
balance. — Yours  respectfully.  Agar  Halfi." 

Carefully  sealing  it  in  an  envelope,  he  addressed 
it  to  Madame  Heloise  Limonaire,  The  Chalet, 
Storton.  That  done,  he  went  in  search  of  Williams, 
and  was  satisfied  to  find  him  ready,  waiting  with 
the  car. 

FAIL   NOT,   GREAT   WIZARD!        291 

"  I  want  you  to  take  this  letter  to  the  Chalet  as 
quickly  as  you  can.  Wait  for  an  answer,  and  pro- 
bably you  will  bring  back  a  passenger." 

Williams — a  solid  west-country  youth  of  about 
twenty — said  "  Right ! "  and  started  the  engine.  He 
had  been  brought  up  as  under-chauffeur,  and  knew 
his  business. 

"  You  should  be  back  in  half  an  hour." 

Williams  said  "  Right !  "  once  more,  and  drove  off. 

Agar  Halfi  returned  at  once  to  the  sick-room,  and 
telling  Mrs.  Breton  that  he  would  stay  with  Mr. 
Brentwood  until  the  nurses  came,  composed  himself 
to  await  the  return  of  Williams.  As  he  sat  in  the 
silence,  his  eyes,  heavy  with  sleep,  began  to  close, 
and  almost  against  his  will  he  dozed.  When  he 
awoke,  it  was  with  an  acute  feeling  that  something 
out  of  the  ordinary  was  going  to  happen.  It 
must  be  the  after-effects  of  a  dream,  he  thought ; 
people  usually  dream  when  they  doze ;  yet  he 
could  not  remember  having  dreamed  anything. 
However,  the  matter  passed  from  his  mind,  for  just 
then  Mrs.  Breton  entered  the  room  to  inform  him 
that  Madame  Limonaire  was  in  the  library. 

Rising,  he  went  downstairs  to  meet  her.  Heloise 
Limonaire  was  standing  by  the  fireplace,  looking  out 
of  the  window.  She  turned  as  he  entered  the  room, 
and  they  looked  at  each  other.  Then  there  hap- 
pened one  of  those  mysterious,  inexplicable  episodes 
which  have  baffled  all  man's  science  and  all  man's 
reason,  ever  since  the  beginning  of  time. 

So  far  as  they  knew,  neither  of  these  two  people 
had  ever  seen  the  other,  and  yet  no  sooner  did  their 
eyes  meet,  than  it  seemed  as  if  some  long-forgotten 


memory  were  awakened.  The  woman  started 
visibly,  and  suppressed  a  low  cry  of  wonder.  The  man 
came  to  a  sudden  halt,  and  drew  in  a  deep  breath- 

Perhaps  for  half  a  minute  they  stood,  then 
Heloise  Limonaire  involuntarily  put  her  hand  to  her 
throat,  as  if  to  protect  it,  while  Agar  Halfi  turned 
colour  under  his  dark  skin,  and  his  great  frame 
trembled,  as  though  with  nervous  shock.  Neither 
spoke  nor  moved,  and  it  seemed  as  if  they  were 
silently  trying  to  understand  what  the  mysterious 
unknown  something  was,  that  each  held  for  the 

At  length  the  Abbess'  hand  slowly  fell  again  to 
her  side,  and  her  lips  moved. 

"  You  ?  "  she  said  absently. 

"  Yes,  it  is  I  !  "  the  man  answered  mechanically, 
as  though  without  control  over  what  he  said,  while 
his  dark  eyes  never  left  her  deep  spiritual  face, 
which  commanded  him  with  an  unknown  power. 
With  an  effort,  she  turned  her  gaze  to  the  window, 
and  the  Hindoo  found  himself  looking  at  her  beauti- 
ful face  in  profile.  Then,  the  magic  of  her  eyes  no 
longer  holding  him,  he  recovered  his  normal  self- 

With  a  low  bow  he  said : 

"  Madame  Limonaire,  I  am  Agar  Halfi,  the  body 
servant  of  the  Master  of  Storton." 

"  Yes,  monsieur;  you  wish  to  see  me  respecting 
Mr.  Brentwood,  I  understand." 

The  sound  of  her  voice  affected  him  in  a  strange 
manner.  It  was  as  if  some  long-dormant  chord  deep 
down  in  his  inner  self  had  been  delicately  struck,  and 
vibrating  in  sympathetic  response  to  the  touch,  had 

FAIL   NOT,   GREAT   WIZARD!        293 

caUed  back  out  of  the  dust  of  the  past  a  memory  of 
mingled  ecstasy  and  suffering. 

So  sweet,  so  gentle  her  tone,  yet  so  dignified  and 
expressive  of  strength  her  manner,  that  Agar  HaLfi 
for  a  moment  wondered  whether  or  not  he  was  talk- 
ing to  a  mortal  woman. 

"  True,  madame ;  my  beloved  master  is  in  danger, 
and  beUeve  me,  I  deeply  thank  you  for  troubhng  to 

When  he  first  wrote  the  letter,  he  meant  to  ques- 
tion the  lady  concerning  Elsie  Hobson's  trance, 
but  now  he  altered  his  mind. 

"  I  think  the  best  thing  would  be  for  you  to  come 
and  see  Mr.  Brentwood,  and  then  tell  me  what  you 

Just  a  second  she  hesitated,  and  then,  with  a 
graceful  inclination  of  her  head,  she  replied : 

"  Yes,  monsieur,  I  will  see  him." 

Agar  Halfi  conducted  her  to  Mr.  Brentwood's 
room,  and  after  introducing  her  to  Mrs.  Breton,  he 
escorted  her  to  the  side  of  the  unconscious  man's 
couch.  The  Abbess  looked  at  him  meditatively, 
while  the  Hindoo  watched  her  curiously.  Then 
without  a  word  she  silently  pointed  to  the  jagged 
scar  on  the  Master  of  Storton's  throat.  Agar 
Halfi's  curiosity  increased,  but  he  did  not  show  it  by 
look  or  gesture ;  and  it  was  not  until  Mrs.  Breton, 
in  reply  to  a  knock  at  the  door,  asked  to  be  excused, 
saying  the  nurses  had  arrived,  that  he  replied  : 

"  Do  you  know  what  it  is  ?  " 

By  way  of  answer,  Heloise  Limonaire  looked 
fully  at  him  and  made  a  secret  sign.  The  Hindoo 
uttered  an  exclamation  of  surprise  and  made  a 


corresponding  one.     It  had  not  occurred  to  him  that 
a  woman  would  be  an  initiate  of  the  mystic  arts. 

She  smiled  a  rare  smile  in  acknowledgment  and 
again  their  eyes  met.  Once  more  that  mysterious 
spell  enveloped  them,  but  this  time  she  seemed  not 
to  be  looking  at  him,  but  beyond. 

Who  was  this  woman,  whose  remarkable  per- 
sonality held  him  ?  He  watched  her,  fascinated, 
then  he  felt  he  was  in  the  grasp  of  an  influence,  the 
strength  of  which  made  him  feel  as  weak  as  water  ; 
so  pure,  so  soft,  so  absorbing,  yet  a  master  power. 

A  strange  trembling  passed  through  his  frame, 
and  subconsciously  he  became  aware  that  words 
were  coming  from  his  mouth,  as  though  another  in- 
telhgence  were  using  his  physical  organs. 

"  What  is  the  meaning  of  this  riddle.  Sorceress  ?  " 
As  if  expecting  the  question,  she  answered  slowly  : 
"  Here  lies  the  King,  Wizard  of  the  Mountains, 
under  the  evil  spell   which   I   in   my  wickedness 
wrought  in  the  distant  past !  " 

A  slight  perspiration  broke  out  over  his  body  as 
she  spoke.  Dimly  it  came  to  his  understauviing 
that  she  was  reading  the  riddle  of  his  existence,  and 
so  stupefied  was  he  with  wonder  that  he  could  not 
have  answered  just  then,  had  he  wanted  to. 

Her  marvellous  eyes  searched  his  countenance  as 
she  continued : 

"When  are  you  going  to  accomphsh  your  task, 
Wizard  ?     Not  till  then  will  the  King  recover  !  " 
Again  the  words  seemed  forced  from  his  mouth : 
"  At  the  appointed  time.  Sorceress,  will  I  slay." 
She  clasped  her  white  hands  on  her  breast,  and 
went  on  in  her  gentle,  dreamy  way : 

FAIL  NOT,    GREAT   WIZARD!        295 

"  The  hour  draws  neap ;  at  the  New  Moon  must 
you  carry  out  the  decree.  Fail,  and  once  more  will 
you  traverse  that  endless  plane  of  woe  to  which  you 
are  at  present  bound,  and  each  time  the  period  in- 
creases in  length." 

Agar  Halli  humbly  bowed  his  head  and  there  was 
awe  in  his  voice  as  he  replied : 

"  Sorceress,  you  are  higher  than  I ;  tell  me,  how 
many  times  have  I  failed  ?  " 

"Twice  have  you  failed  at  the  critical  juncture, 
thrice  have  you  traversed  the  earth  plane." 

"  And  you  ?  "  he  asked. 

"  I  have  conquered.  I  am  but  held  here  until  you 
have  slain  the  evil  which  I  created.  Our  destinies 
are  inseparably  bound  together.  Wizard ;  long  have 
I  waited  for  you  to  win  the  way." 

"  And  if  I  fail  not  this  time  ?  " 

"  Then  you  will  release  us  both  from  bondage, 
and  together  shall  we  pass  unto  the  higher  spheres." 

As  she  spoke,  she  suddenly  stretched  forth  her 
hands  and  there  was  a  great  appeal  in  her  eyes. 

Something  hke  a  moan  came  from  his  lips  as  he 
answered : 

"  I  will  not  fail.  Sorceress — ^yet — ^yet,  I  feel  there 
is  only  one  way." 

Her  expression  was  one  of  mingled  tenderness  and 
anguish,  as  she  answered  softly  : 

"  Only  one  way,  Wizard,  and  that  is  death  !  " 

"  Death  !  "  he  repeated  mechanically,  and  then 
with  his  hands  to  his  brow  he  staggered  back,  over- 
whelmed, cognisant  that  his  end  was  near.  The 
veil  had  been  torn,  and  in  the  great  spiritual  eyes 
of  the  woman  before  him  he  saw  his  destiny. 


"  Courage,"  she  whispered.  "  In  death  shall  you 
find  life  and  love." 

As  though  ashamed  at  the  weakness  he  had 
shown.  Agar  Halfi  drew  himself  up,  and  folding  his 
arms  across  his  chest  said  : 

"  Enough  !  I  shall  not  fail.  I  could  not  now  that 
I  fully  know  aU." 

"  And  yet  remember,  that  twice  before  did  you 
fail  when  I  appealed." 

"  Ah,  Sorceress,  but  you  know  that  I  had  not 
heard  your  appeal.  Tell  me,  why  have  I  not  known 
at  those  other  times  ?  " 

"  Tell  me.  Wizard,  how  it  is  that  you  know  now  ?  " 
she  rephed. 

But  he  shook  his  head. 

She  smiled  as  she  continued  : 

"  By  the  powers  that  you  have  fought  with  and 
conquered,  by  the  self-sacrifices  you  have  had  to 
make  to  become  a  master  in  the  mysterious  arts. 
This  is  the  reward,  Wizard,  that  you  are  allowed  to 
become  self-conscious  of  your  task ;  but  for  that,  I 
could  not  have  recognised  you,  nor  you  me." 

He  looked  at  her  in  wonderment ;  what  she  said 
was  truth,  and  he  marvelled  at  it  all.  Then  he 
slowly  turned  his  head  toward  the  unconscious  man. 

"  And  the  King  ?  " 

"  The  King  will  live ;  his  destiny  at  present  is  here," 
she  answered  quietly.  "  Yet,  leave  you  a  note 
signed  and  sealed  for  him  when  he  awakes,  so  that 
he  may  come  to  me  to  know  of  this.  And  now  I 
must  depart." 

Mechanically  Agar  Halfi  opened  the  door,  and 
she    preceded   him   down   the    stairs.      As    they 

FAIL   NOT,   GREAT    WIZARD!         297 

reached  the  great  main  entrance,  he  turned  to  her 
saying : 

"  And  you,  when  shall  we  meet  again  ?  " 

"  Soon,"  she  sighed,  "  but  not  on  the  earth  plane." 

"  Wherever  I  am  I  shall  seek  you,"  he  whispered. 

"  And  wherever  I  am  I  shall  wait  for  you,"  she 

"  And  now  for  a  brief  period,  good-bye.  Forty- 
eight  hours  brings  the  New  Moon  !  " 

Saying  which,  she  went  down  the  grey  stone  steps 
to  the  motor  car  which  Williams  had  in  readiness. 

"  Take  Madame  Limonaire  back  to  the  Chalet, 
Williams,"  he  called  in  a  clear  voice. 

The  whirr  of  the  engine  fell  on  his  ears,  the  car 
started  slowly,  and  he  heard  it  roll  off  into  the  night. 
Until  the  sound  of  the  brougham  had  died  away 
he  stood,  and  then  a  great  passionate  convulsion 
gripped  the  man,  and  stretching  out  his  arms  he 
uttered  an  inarticulate,  deeply  smothered  cry.  It 
was  the  deathless  call  of  one  soul  to  another,  which 
just  for  a  moment  had  seen  behind  the  veil,  and  in 
a  flash  had  realised  that  now,  and  always,  through 
eternity,  the  unquenchable  fire  of  love  is  the  mys- 
terious power  that  rules  the  universe,  and  through 
it  guides  the  destiny  of  every  human  soul. 


"  I   AM   BUT  AS  THE   DUST  " 

Brentwood  was  almost  certain  he  heard  a  famihar 
voice  saying  to  him,  "  Awake !  Awake !  "  He 
hstened  intently,  and  slowly  it  occurred  to  him 
that  he  must  have  been  dreaming. 

Opening  his  eyes,  he  gazed  round,  and  received 
a  slight  shock  of  surprise.  The  electric  light  was  on, 
and  seated  by  a  bright  fire,  was  a  nurse  reading.  He 
looked  at  her  wonderingly  ;  then  his  eyes  turned  to 
the  window,  and  he  saw  that  the  dawn  was  break- 
ing, cold  and  grey. 

Had  he  been  ill  ?  He  could  not  tell,  though  it 
appeared  very  much  like  it  from  the  look  of  the 
room,  and  the  presence  of  the  nurse.  He  made  as 
if  to  move,  when  a  sharp  pain  ran  through  his  left 
shoulder.  It  was  as  if  the  physical  sensation  caused 
the  natural  functions  of  his  body  and  mind  to  start 
working,  for  in  a  flash  his  memory  returned,  and  he 
remembered  all ;  the  experiment,  the  leap  of  the 
dog,  the  pain  caused  by  the  crushing  of  his 
shoulder.  After  that,  nothing,  until  the  strange 
call  of  that  voice  he  knew,  and  he  found  himself 

Ah,  he  must  have  been  delirious  with  the  fever, 

which  would  almost  be  sure  to  have  set  in.     He 

thought  it  over  for  a  time,  and  at  last  the  details  of 

things  pieced  themselves  together,  and  he  realised 



"I    AM   BUT   AS   THE   DUST"        299 

"  Nurse  !  " 

The  book  the  Sister  was  reading  almost  fell  from 
her  hands  at  the  sound.  Starting  up  quickly,  she 
went  to  the  bedside,  a  look  of  surprised  curiosity 
on  her  face. 

"  Can  I  have  some  water  ?  " 

She  looked  doubtful  at  first,  then  said  : 

"  Yes,  I  think  you  may  have  a  little." 

He  drank  it  with  a  relish,  then  inquired  : 

"  How  long  have  I  been  unconscious  ?  " 

"  Several  days,  sir,"  she  replied. 

"  Several  days  ?  " — He  paused,  then  added  : 
"  Where  is  Mr.  Agar  Haiti  ?  " 

"  He  has  not  been  in  since  ten  o'clock  last  night. 
I  expect  he  will  be  here  as  usual,  about  eight  this 

Mr.  Brentwood  nodded. 

"  Could  you  drink  some  beef  tea  ?  " 

"  I  don't  know,  I'm  sure,"  he  answered  uncer- 

"  Well,  I  will  make  some,  anyway." 

He  watched  her  idly  while  she  prepared  it.  He 
was  indifferent  whether  he  had  it  or  not ;  but  after 
the  first  spoonful  he  felt  hungry,  and  drank  it 
eagerly.  The  warmth  it  gave  soothed  him,  and 
in  less  than  five  minutes  he  had  fallen  into  a  dream- 
less sleep. 

WTien  he  awoke,  it  was  past  ten  o'clock,  and  a 
fresh  nurse  was  in  the  room.  It  was  not  long  before 
her  attentive  eyes  saw  that  he  was  not  asleep,  and 
she  came  over  to  him  immediately, 

"  Well,  sir,  do  you  feel  better  ?  " 

He  smiled  oddly  as  he  replied  : 


"  That  I  can  hardly  say.  I  certainly  don't  feel 
ill !  "  He  paused,  then  added  :  "  Where  is  Mr.  Agar 
Halfi  ?  " 

She  looked  a  trifle  perplexed  as  she  answered  : 

"  He  has  not  yet  been  in  this  morning.  He 
usually  comes  about  eight  o'clock." 

"  What  time  is  it  now  ?  " 

"  A  quarter  past  ten." 

"  What  is  the  matter,  nurse  ?  " 

She  had  stood  still  suddenly,  and  was  looking  at 
him  with  wonder  in  her  eyes. 

"  The  scar,  sir  ;  it  has  gone  !  " 

Brentwood  instinctively  put  his  hand  to  his  throat, 
then  smiled  slowly. 

"  Are  you  quite  sure  ?  "  he  queried. 

"  Quite — ^there  is  not  a  trace  of  it  visible.  Let 
me  fetch  a  glass,  then  you  can  see  for  yourself." 

The  Master  of  Storton  examined  his  neck  very 
carefully,  then  silently  put  the  hand-mirror  on  the 
counterpane.  What  the  nurse  had  said  was  true ; 
not  a  vestige  of  the  scar  remained. 

"  Nurse,  I  should  like  to  see  Mrs.  Breton." 

He  had  hardly  spoken,  when  there  was  a  hurried 
knock  at  the  door,  and  the  housekeeper  entered, 
with  a  perturbed  look  on  her  face. 

"  Nurse,"  she  exclaimed  quickly,  "  is  Mr.  Brent- 
wood— "  She  stopped  abruptly,  as  her  eyes  met 
those  of  her  master. 

"  Good  morning,"  he  said  tranquilly;  then  seeing 
the  troubled  look  on  her  face,  he  added,  "  What 
is  the  matter,  Mrs.  Breton  ?  " 

"  Oh,  sir,  I'm  so  glad  you  are  better.  But  I 
cannot  understand  this — "  here  she  held  up  her 

"I   AM   BUT   AS   THE   DUST"        301 

hand,  which  contained  a  letter.  "  WiUiams  gave 
it  to  me  just  now,  and  said  that  Mr.  Agar  Halfi 
handed  it  to  him  last  night,  with  instructions  to 
dehver  it  to  me  after  ten  o'clock  this  morning." 
She  paused,  breathing  quickly. 

"  Go  on,"  he  said  quietly. 

"  I  will  read  it,  sir  : 

"  Dear  Mrs.  Breton, — I  have  instructed  WilUams 
to  hand  you  this  note  after  ten  o'clock  to-morrow 
morning.  Enclosed  you  will  find  a  letter  addressed 
to  Mr.  Brentwood,  which  please  hand  to  him.  I 
have  no  doubt  that  he  will  not  only  be  conscious 
by  then,  but  practically  all  right  in  health. 

"Agar  Halfi." 

Brentwood  silently  held  out  his  hand  for  the 
packet.     Tearing  it  open,  he  read  as  follows  : 

"  My  beloved  Friend, — Should  you  receive  this 
document  before  you  see  me,  you  will  understand 
that  I  have  passed  away  from  the  physical  plane 
of  existence  !  But  let  not  that  disturb  you  ;  it  is 
part  of  my  destiny,  as  you  will  learn  later  on — my 
time  has  come. 

Know  that  when  you  received  the  wound  in  your 
shoulder,  the  scar  on  your  throat  turned  blood-red, 
and  when  the  fever  which  set  in  had  abated,  instead 
of  recovering  consciousness  you  passed  into  a  swoon 
similar  to  that  which  you  suffered  in  Afghanistan. 
In  order  to  make  quite  sure  that  your  trance  tallied 
with  Miss  Hobson's,  I  immediately  sent  for  Madame 
Limonaire,  with  the  object  of  getting  her  to  confirm 
the  symptoms.     But  little  did  I  reahse  what  would 


be  the  result  of  my  request.  The  question  of  the 
trance  became  a  secondary  matter,  when,  on 
Madame' s  appearance,  I  at  once  learned  that  she 
held  the  key  to  the  evil  which  has  been  overshadow- 
ing us  for  so  long.  I  also  learned  that  I  was  partly 
the  cause,  that  through  me  alone  could  it  be  allayed  ; 
and  further,  that  there  was  only  one  way  to  accom- 
phsh  it.  That  course  I  have  taken.  When  yoa 
read  this,  look  to  the  scar  on  your  throat ;  if  it  has 
entirely  disappeared,  you  will  know  that  I  have 
succeeded,  and  you  will  be  free  from  the  evil  which 
has  obsessed  you  ever  since  it  attacked  you  in 
Afghanistan,  five  years  ago. 

I  request  you  to  send  without  delay  for  the 
Abbess — it  is  her  command — who  will  explain  all.     ^ 

Seek  you  my  body  in  my  private  room  at  the 
Lodge,  where  I  now  go  to  prepare  myself  to  over- 
come the  dread  evil  of  the  Legend  of  the  Mountains. 
In  three  hours,  at  the  New  Moon,  I  trust  that  in 
death  I  shall  be  triumphant. 

Until  in  the  future  we  meet  again,  fare  you  well, 
my  best  beloved  friend.  Agar  Halfi." 

As  he  mastered  its  contents,  Brentwood's  lips 
shut  in  a  hard  hne,  and  his  features  assumed  a 
stony  expression.  The  two  women  looked  at  him 
with  mingled  wonder  and  awe;  they  instinctively 
knew  that  something  had  happened,  and  for  a  time 
there  was  an  impressive  silence.  He  broke  it  at 
length,  by  saying  in  a  cold,  level  voice : 

"  Mrs.  Breton,  I  will  dress  at  once.  Please  send 
WiUiams  to  me." 

So  stem  was  his  tone,  that  the  housekeeper — 

"I   AM   BUT   AS   THE   DUST"        303 

who,  under  ordinary  circumstances,  would  have 
remonstrated  with  him — without  a  word  went  to 
do  his  bidding,  and  the  nurse  followed  her  out. 

When  they  had  gone,  something  like  a  sob  issued 
from  his  throat,  and  a  look  of  intense  grief  came 
over  his  face.  In  his  weakened  state,  the  shock  of 
being  deprived  of  the  one  human  being  for  whom 
he  had  ever  felt  any  real  affection  acted  with  double 
force ;  it  almost  prostrated  him.  He  lay  half- 
helpless,  in  a  dull  sort  of  dream,  until  WiUiams 
announced  his  presence  by  knocking  at  the  door. 
Rousing  himself,  Brentwood  told  the  under-chauffeur 
to  come  in. 

It  took  a  long  while,  but  with  Williams'  aid  he 
at  length  got  dressed,  and  finally  was  seated  in  a 
big  divan  chair,  by  the  fire. 

Here,  with  difficulty,  he  wrote  a  short  note  to 
Heloise  Limonaire,  and  after  sending  for  Mrs,  Breton, 
told  Williams  to  go  straight  to  the  Chalet  in  the  car, 
and  bring  the  Abbess  back  with  him. 

When  he  had  gone,  the  Master  of  Storton  turned 
to  his  housekeeper,  and  said  : 

"  Mrs.  Breton,  I  must,  I  think,  prepare  you  for 
some  bad  news.  I'm  afraid  something  has  happened 
to  Mr.  Agar  Halfi,  but  I  cannot  say  for  certain, 
until  I  have  seen  Madame  Limonaire,  whom  I  have 
sent  Williams  to  fetch.  When  she  arrives,  please 
ask  her  to  come  to  my  room  without  delay." 

"  Really,  sir,  I  do  hope  the  trouble  is  not  so  very 
serious.  But  must  you  be  out  of  bed  ?  I  feel  it 
is  risky  for  you  to  be  up." 

"  Don't  worry  about  that,  Mrs.  Breton.  Beyond 
being  a  httle  weak,  and  just  a  trifle  stiff,  I  am  all 


right.     I  would  not  have  got  up,  had  I  not  felt  that 
something  very  grave  had  happened. 

Now  I  am  ready  to  come  under  the  nurse's  care 
again.  I  expect  my  shoulder  will  want  dressing 
and  my  arm  will  have  to  be  put  in  a  sling  for  the 

By  the  time  the  Abbess  had  arrived,  the  nurse 
had  satisfactorily  attended  to  the  Master  of  Storton's 
shoulder,  and  his  arm  was  comfortably  suspended 
by  his  side. 

He  rose  to  meet  Madame  Limonaire  with  mingled 
feelings,  but  one  glance  told  him  that  she  was  not 
an  ordinary  woman.  He  felt  her  influence  immedi- 
ately she  crossed  the  threshold  of  the  room,  and  in 
spite  of  his  own  powers,  backed  by  a  masterful  mind, 
he  was  sensible  of  a  presence  greater  than  his  own. 

Both  remained  silent  for  some  time  after  Mrs. 
Breton  had  left  the  room,  the  Abbess  standing  with 
one  foot  on  the  curb,  and  one  hand  on  the  mantel- 
piece, looking  sadly  into  the  fire,  while  Brent- 
wood gazed  at  her  with  growing  respect.  Instinc- 
tively he  became  aware  that  she  possessed  powers 
similar  to  his  own,  but  in  a  higher  and  grander 

At  last  he  said  in  a  low  voice  : 

"  Did  you  understand,  madame,  the  crude  note 
I  sent  to  you  ?  " 

"  Perfectly,"  she  answered,  without  looking  up. 

"  Then  will  you  please  read  what  my  friend. 
Agar  Halfi,  has  written  ?  " 

Slowly  extending  her  hand,  she  took  the  letter 
which  he  held  forth,  and  silently  perused  it.  He 
watched  her  closely  while  she  read,  but  only  a  slight 

"I    AM    BUT   AS   THE   DUST"        305 

heave  of  her  breast  disturbed  her  composure,  though 
her  mouth  grew  unspeakably  tender. 

When  she  had  finished,  he  waited  patiently, 
expecting  some  comment ;  but  she  remained  silent, 
mechanically  tapping  the  fingers  of  her  left  hand 
with  the  letter,  which  she  had  folded  up. 

It  was  he  who  spoke  first  : 

"  Madame  Limonaire,  during  the  past  fifteen 
years  of  my  hfe  I  have  gone  through  some  strange 
experiences,  and  seen  things  which  average  intelli- 
gent people  would  classify  as  fairy  tales,  if  they  were 
seriously  put  forth  ;  yet  if  the  contents  of  that 
letter  are  true,  I  fear  that  the  mysterious  evil  which 
came  into  my  life  some  five  years  ago  is  beyond 
the  scope  of  my  knowledge.  When  I  read  that 
letter,  I  was,  as  you  may  well  understand,  surprised, 
and  I  wondered  if  it  were  possible  that  any  living 
being,  let  alone  a  woman,  could  unravel  this  tangled 

"  Why  so,  Monsieur  ?  why  should  a  woman  be  less 
capable  of  solving  it  than  anyone  else  ?  " 

The  subtle  attraction  in  her  sweet,  gentle  tones 
stirred  him  a  little.  He  had  spoken  to  her  as  an 
intellectual  equal ;  but  the  sound  of  her  voice — 
without  dispelling  the  first  idea — forcefully  reminded 
him  that  there  was  a  distinct  and  sharp  line  between 
the  sexes,  of  which  he  had  not  hitherto  been  conscious. 

"It  is  seldom  women  attain  the  high  develop- 
ment that  men  reach,"  he  answered  steadily. 

"  Why  do  you  think  that  ?  " 

He  hesitated  a  moment  before  he  replied  : 

"  Probably  because  they  have  not  had,  and  do 
not  now  have,  the  same  opportunities." 



"  Monsieur  Brentwood,  what  do  you  know  about 
women  ?  " 

She  turned  her  beautiful  face  toward  him,  and 
their  eyes  met.  Instinctively  the  Master  of  Stor- 
ton  felt  all  his  powers  gathering  to  combat  this 
extraordinary  personality,  unconsciously  the  forces 
within  him  challenged  her  power,  but  the  pure 
clear  look  of  her  remarkable  eyes  met  his  glance 
with  an  easy  calm. 

For  nearly  a  minute  their  minds  clashed,  during 
which  period  the  man  suffered  more  than  he  had 
ever  done  in  the  whole  of  his  life.  The  light  of  her 
eyes  grew  in  intensity,  and  he  became  terribly 
aware  that  he  was  seeing  the  faults  of  his  existence. 
What  a  distorted,  feeble  thing  after  all  1  He,  who 
had  imagined  he  had  evolved  so  high — nothing  but 
a  puny,  weak  mortal.  He  was  being  forced  to  know 
it,  to  admit  it  !  A  scorching  shame  passed  over 
him,  he  closed  his  eyes  to  shut  out  the  overwhelming 
power  of  her  gaze,  and  with  the  fall  of  his  pride,  he 
gave  a  short  cry.  Sinking  back  in  his  choir,  he 
bowed  his  head,  covering  his  eyes  with  his  right  hand. 

During  the  long  silence  which  ensued,  the  Master 
of  Storton,  crushed  as  he  was,  learned  that  he  was 
but  partially  developed,  a  sort  of  lop-sided  ego, 
which,  having  conquered  some  things,  had  carelessly, 
if  not  wilfully,  neglected  others  equally  important. 

"  I  am  but  as  the  dust !  "  he  exclaimed  bitterly. 

"  Monsieur !  " 

The  deep  ring  of  unselfish  sympathy  in  her  voice 
lifted  him  out  of  the  depths  into  which  he  had  sunk, 
and  a  new  hope  rose  in  him.  Slowly  looking  up, 
he  beheld  her  standing  with   outstretched  arms. 

"I   AM   BUT   AS   THE   DUST"        307 

tears  of  pain  in  her  eyes,  and  an  expression  of  grief 
on  her  spiritual  face. 

"  Think  not  that  I  came  to  punish  you ;  I  am 
but  the  instrument  through  which  the  lesson  you 
have  had  to  learn  has  been  conveyed.  You  have 
suffered  greatly,  so  also  have  I  in  witnessing  your 
agony.  But  as  you  must  know,  the  more  a  soul 
develops,  the  more  refined  it  becomes,  the  greater 
is  its  suffering — ^this  is  the  law. 

"  But  that  you  have  striven  and  struggled  toward 
good,  this  lesson  could  not  have  been  learned  by  you 
in  this  particular  way.  It  is  part  of  your  reward ; 
you  have  but  to  profit  by  it.  For  some  years,  your 
destiny  is  here.  Seek  it  in  self-sacrifice ;  go  out 
into  the  world  of  struggling  humanity,  and,  as  far 
as  you  are  able,  emulate  the  Master  Magician — 
continue  his  work." 

She  paused,  and  he  looked  at  her  wonderingly, 
but  without  fear,  for  he  understood.  In  the  same 
way  that  he  loved  his  friend  Agar  Halfi,  so  he  loved 
this  strange  woman.  He  knew  now  that  they  were 
both  on  the  same  plane  of  development,  where 
jealousy  and  envy  have  long  been  conquered  and 

"  Madame,  it  is  good  that  one's  pride  should  be 
humbled.  Only  too  well  do  I  realise  the  mistake 
I  have  made.  By  avoiding  certain  things  in  the 
world,  I  have  remained  ignorant  of  them,  thinking 
that  they  did  not  matter." 

"  Seek,  and  ye  shall  find,"  she  replied  simply. 
"  And  now.  Monsieur,  if  you  are  ready,  let  us  go 
and  discover  him  who  has  fulfilled  his  part  in  this 
one  of  many  destinies  in  the  great  eternal  fife." 


Slowly  rising,  he  went  up  into  his  study  and  took 
a  key  from  his  desk.  Returning,  with  the  aid  of  the 
Abbess  he  donned  his  ulster,  and  together  they 
went  by  the  secret  stair  out  of  the  house,  to  the 
lodge.  Here  Brentwood,  with  some  trepidation, 
effected  an  entrance  to  the  Hindoo's  private  room 
with  the  key  he  had  brought,  and  standing  on  one 
side,  allowed  the  Abbess  to  precede  him. 

As  they  crossed  the  threshold,  that  which  met 
their  eyes  caused  the  man  to  stifle  a  low  cry,  but 
the  woman  gave  no  sign. 

Lying  full  length  on  the  carpet,  dressed  in  his 
ritual  robes,  lay  the  body  of  Agar  Halfi,  a  look  of 
serene  calm  on  his  fine  countenance.  In  his  right 
hand  was  a  white  wand ;  in  his  left,  and  held  to  his 
breast,  the  large  gold  cross  without  which  he  had 
never  conducted  any  experiment.  A  copper  brazier 
stood  at  his  head,  another  at  his  feet. 

Just  for  a  moment  they  stood  looking  with  deep 
reverence  at  the  solemn  scene,  then  the  Master  of 
Storton  stepped  quickly  to  the  side  of  the  silent 
figure,  and  bending  down  on  one  knee,  carefully 
examined  it. 

"  Dead  !  Quite  dead  !  "  he  whispered  brokenly. 
Looking  up,  he  met  the  quiet  eyes  of  Heloise 
Limonaire,  who  was  standing  on  the  other  side  of 
the  body,  her  hands  clasped  on  her  breast. 

As  she  gazed  at  him,  the  Master  of  Storton  sud- 
denly felt  that  he  was  in  the  grip  of  some  mysterious 
power.  Strange  scenes  passed  before  his  vision,  cries 
in  an  unknown  tongue  rang  in  his  ears.  They  passed, 
and  he  heard  the  voice  of  the  Abbess  speaking  : 

"  King  of  a  once  great  race,  here  lies  the  body  of 

"I   AM   BUT   AS   THE   DUST"        309 

the  Wizard  of  the  Mountains,  who,  having  fulfilled 
his  destiny  here,  has  departed  from  the  earth  plane. 
No  more  exists  the  evil  which  I,  the  Sorceress,  in 
my  wickedness  brought  forth  long  ago,  to  cause  his 
downfall.  By  his  sacrifice  has  he  destroyed  it, 
and,  great  King,  we  are  free,  the  goal  is  won.  Soon 
shall  I  follow,  there  to  join  him,  and  together  shall 
we  evolve  onward  and  upward  in  the  vast  eternal 

But  you,  who  were  once  a  monarch,  know  that 
your  time  has  not  yet  come.  As  every  physical 
body  seeks  its  mate,  so  every  soul  seeks  its  counter- 
part, and  every  spirit  its  affinity.  Seek  you  yours 
on  the  earth  plane,  you  shall  not  labour  in  vain. 
Then  shall  a  change  of  consciousness  carry  you 

Her  voice  died  away,  and  with  it  the  spell.  Re- 
leased from  her  magnetic  gaze,  the  Master  of 
Storton's  eyes  wandered  to  the  dead  man's  face, 
and  as  he  stared  he  almost  thought  he  saw  a  quiet 
smile  of  triumph  disturb  the  impassive  features. 
He  started,  and  rising  to  his  feet  was  about  to 
speak,  when  he  saw  that  the  Abbess  was  standing 
with  bent  head,  and  clasped  hands,  as  though  in 
prayer  over  the  clay  house  that  had  once  imprisoned 
the  companion  of  her  desftiny. 

For  some  time  she  stood  thus,  then  with  a  deep 
sigh  she  turned,  and  said  calmly  : 

"Come,  Monsieur,  I  would  depart — my  task  is 



They  buried  the  body  of  Agar  Halfi  quietly  and 
without  ceremony  in  the  village  churchyard,  and 
when  the  Rev.  Philip  Alletson  read  the  burial  ser- 
vice it  was  a  characteristic  group  that  stood  in 
silent  reverence  over  the  Hindoo  mystic's  earthly 

Elsie  Hobson  and  Arthur  Shepperton  were  there, 
in  acknowledgment  of  all  that  that  strange  man 
had  done  for  them ;  also  Herbert  Canning,  who  had 
come  to  pay  his  last  respects  to  the  man  who  had 
saved  his  life. 

Close  to  the  grave  stood  the  Master  of  Storton, 
pale  and  set,  a  look  of  stern  sorrow  on  his  handsome 
face.  Not  far  away,  deeply  veiled,  was  the  Abbess, 
silent  and  still.  By  her  side  stood  Constance,  with 
trembling  lips  and  wet  eyes. 

They  all  knew  what  had  transpired — omitting 
certain  details,  and  with  Madame  Limonaire's  per- 
mission, Brentwood  had  frankly  explained  to  the 
rest,  the  final  act  in  this  mysterious  drama.  At 
that  meeting,  whatever  resentment  the  young  soli- 
citor may  have  had  against  the  Master  of  Storton 
vanished.  He  was  not  ungenerous,  and  when — 
to  the  surprise  of  everyone  except  the  Abbess — 
Brentwood  had  offered  his  hand,  Shepperton  had 
gripped  it  genuinely,  and  the  Master  of  Storton 

turned  a  one-time  enemy  into  a  friend. 



As  for  Constance,  the  words  she  had  once  spoken 
to  Philip,  i.e.  that  if  he  were  innocent  she  would 
never  be  able  to  look  him  in  the  face  again  for  very 
shame,  came  home  to  her  forcefully  now,  and  while 
she  stood  listening  to  her  brother's  voice  by  the 
graveside,  she  cast  one  or  two  nervous  glances  at 
the  motionless  figure  of  the  man  she  loved.  "  When 
it  was  over,  would  he  speak  to  her  ?  "  she  thought. 
If  he  did,  she  felt  she  would  have  to  apologise,  and 
she  was  afraid — ^not  of  having  to  apologise,  but 
of  herself  ! 

However,  beyond  the  usual  formalities,  he  did 
not  address  her,  and  when  his  carriage  had  departed, 
the  reaction  of  the  strain  she  had  put  upon  herself 
made  her  tremble.  It  was  then  that  a  gentle  pres- 
sure on  her  arm  made  her  turn,  to  find  herself 
looking  into  the  calm,  beautiful  eyes  of  Heloise 

The  trembling  stopped  almost  immediately,  and 
she  was  aware  of  a  restful  feeling,  similar  to  that 
which  she  had  experienced  when  she  first  met  Agar 

"  Peace,  child,"  she  whispered  in  her  sweet  voice, 
"  do  not  distress  yourself.  There  is  sunshine  with 
the  rain,  and  that  which  you  were  told,  by  him  whose 
body  lies  yonder,  will  soon  come  to  pass  !  " 

The  next  moment  the  Abbess  had  stepped  into 
her  carriage,  and  before  Constance  could  reply 
it  had  rolled  away,  leaving  the  Vicar's  sister  to 
reproach  herself  for  being  selfish.  Surely,  if  any 
person  wanted  sympathy  just  then,  it  was  Madame 
Limonaire,  and  yet  the  great  generous  spirit  of  that 
remarkable  woman  had  swept  on  one  side  her  own 

312         AGAR   HALFI   THE   MYSTIC 

trouble,  just  to  give  comfort  to  a  sister,  whom  she 
had  realised  was  suffering  quietly,  when  they  stood 
side  by  side  at  the  grave  of  Agar  Halfi  the  Mystic. 

About  a  week  later,  one  beautiful  sunny  morning, 
Mr.  Brentwood  was  sitting  on  an  old  rustic  seat 
beneath  a  great  oak,  somewhere  in  one  of  the  comers 
of  his  immense  garden. 

Since  the  death  of  his  friend  he  had  changed 
visibly.  For  one  thing,  the  hard  stern  lines  of  his 
face,  which  had  been  so  characteristic  of  the  man 
and  made  people  avoid  him,  had  vanished  ;  while 
the  cold  look  of  his  deep  brown  eyes  was  no  longer 
discernible.  But  his  countenance  bore  traces  of 
suffering,  and  a  close  inspection  would  have  revealed 
a  distinct  touch  of  grey  in  his  dark  hair. 

Not  until  Agar  Halfi  had  passed  over  did  the 
Master  of  Storton  realise  how  much  he  was  attached 
to  him,  and  there  was  a  lonely  feeling  in  his  heart 
when  at  times  he  unconsciously  listened,  expecting 
to  hear  the  famiUar  voice,  and  then  suddenly  re- 
membered the  loss  he  had  sustained. 

But  as  there  is  no  "  cloud  without  a  silver  lining," 
so  the  grief  of  this  reserved,  proud  man  was  slowly 
but  surely  being  superseded  by  a  new  and  mysterious 

Ever  since  his  memorable  interview  with  the 
Abbess,  the  Master  of  Storton  had  realised  that  the 
loneliness  he  had  sometimes  experienced  during 
his  hfe  was  due  to  the  fact  that  man  is  not  meant 
to  Uve  in  a  solitary  state,  neither  physically,  men- 
tally, nor  spiritually.  As  he  had  become  convinced 
of  this,  his  eyes  seemed  to  be  opened,  and  one  day 
he  suddenly  understood  why  he  had  been  troubled 


because  a  certain  individual  had  suspected  him  of 
being  the  perpetrator  of  the  Worlstoke  Mystery. 

Now  it  happened  that  this  particular  morning 
he  sat  deeply  thinking  about  these  things,  when 
all  at  once  he  started  up,  and  calUng  Hector,  who 
lay  lazily  asleep  at  his  feet,  he  put  on  his  hat  and 
went  out. 

Half  an  hour  later  he  stood  in  the  Vicarage  draw- 
ing-room, whither  Martha  had  shown  him,  when 
he  had  asked  for  Miss  AUetson. 

A  minute  later  the  door  opened,  and  the  Vicar 

"  Really,  Brentwood,  I  am  glad  to  see  you  again," 
he  said  warmly.  "  Of  course  you  will  now  stop  to 
lunch  ?  " 

"  Well,  I  hardly  know,"  he  replied  uncertainly. 
"  Did  you  understand  why  I  called  ?  " 

The  Vicar  looked  at  him  mystified,  then  rephed  : 

"  No,  I'm  afraid  I  don't  quite  grasp  what  you 

"  Well,  I  will  tell  you,  AUetson — I  called  to  see 
your  sister." 

"  Sister  !  "  echoed  the  other. 

"  Yes,  AUetson.  Listen  :  I'm  going  to  ask  her  to 
marry  me,"  he  said  cooUy. 

For  some  time  the  two  men  looked  at  each  other 
steadily.  The  Vicar  was  a  little  startled,  yet  in 
his  heart  he  rejoiced.  Like  certain  other  people, 
he  knew  his  sister's  secret,  and  the  fact  that  a  happy 
ending  to  what  even  an  hour  ago  seemed  to  be  a 
tragedy,  unnerved  him  for  the  moment.  At  length 
he  took  the  Master  of  Storton's  hand  in  his,  and 
said,  in  a  voice  deep  with  emotion  : 


"  Brentwood,  it  is  a  surprise  to  me ;  I  had  no  idea, 
but  for  my  sister's  sake  I  could  not  wish  anything 
better.  Constance  went  out  about  an  hour  ago, 
and  I  think  she  went  for  a  walk  in  the  woods.  Go 
and  find  her,  Brentwood,  and  God  speed  you." 

It  was  Hector  who  first  found  her.  She  was 
standing  at  the  end  of  the  path  that  overlooks  the 
village  of  Worlstoke,  and  was  evidently  on  the  way 

She  turned  in  surprise  as  the  dog  came  bounding 
up  to  her,  then  her  heart  fluttered,  for  she  found 
herself  face  to  face  with  the  man  who  held  all  the 
world  for  her. 

Just  for  a  few  seconds  they  looked  at  each  other, 
and  she  could  not  help  noticing  that  his  face  was 
cold  and  hard. 

Then  she  recovered  her  self-possession,  and  said 
almost  normally : 

"  Mr.  Brentwood,  how  can  I  satisfactorily  apolo- 
gise to  you  ?  " 

"  For  what  ?  "  he  asked,  although  he  knew  all 
the  while  what  she  meant. 

She  paused  uncertainly — didn't  he  understand  ? 

"  My — my  suspicions  of  you." 

He  laughed  oddly,  and  answered  indifferently  : 

"  I  don't  need  any  apology  !  " 

She  grew  proud  in  an  instant.  Why  had  she 
spoken  ?    The  man  seemed  made  of  marble 

"  If  I  have  offended  too  deeply,  I  regret  it ;  I 
cannot  do  more." 

"  You  can  !  " 

The  colour  went  from  her  cheeks ;  his  tone  did  not 
assure  her,  and  she  could  not  understand  his  attitude. 


"  Mr.  Brentwood,  what  do  you  mean  ?  " 

"  Constance! " 

The  intense  feehng  in  his  voice  caused  her  to 
draw  in  a  deep  breath.  During  the  pause  which 
followed,  their  eyes  met,  and  as  in  her  dream  she 
saw  the  cold  brown  eyes  grow  warm,  then  un- 
speakably tender.  Her  lips  quivered,  her  breast 
heaved,  and  as  she  reahsed  what  it  all  meant,  she 
gave  a  smothered  cry  and  dropped  her  gaze. 

He  took  her  hand,  and  she  felt  his  grasp  warm 
and  strong.  It  thrilled  her,  and  as  in  a  dream  she 
heard  his  voice  : 

"  Constance,  I  came  to  find  you,  with  the  hope 
that  I  may  never  leave  you  again.  Can  I  hope  so 
much  ?  " 

As  she  understood  his  words  the  woman,  who 
at  the  touch  of  his  hand  had  felt  helpless,  realised 
her  power. 

She  raised  her  eyes,  with  a  hght  in  them  which 
made  the  blood  rush  to  his  heart. 

"  Hugo  Brentwood,  I  loved  you  long  ago,"  she 
said  simply. 

She  looked  into  his  eyes,  this  time  quite  without 
fear,  for  not  a  trace  could  she  discern  of  the  dread 
evil  which,  the  last  time  their  eyes  met,  had  held 
her  in  a  grip  of  horror.  All  she  saw  was  her  own 
fair  face  reflected  in  the  dark  pupils,  and  she  was 
restfuUy  conscious  that  the  cry  which  had  come 
from  her  soul  that  dreadful  night  at  the  Manor 
had  at  last  been  answered. 

Their  hps  met — and  Hector,  who  was  standing 
a  dumb  witness  to  this  plighting  of  their  troth, 
slowly  wagged  his  tail  as  if  with  approval. 


AT  LAST  !   OH   BELOVED  ! 

One  evening  about  a  fortnight  later,  when  that 
moon  whose  birth  signaUsed  the  death  of  Agar  Halfi 
was  on  the  wane,  in  the  early  twilight  hour,  the 
last  rays  of  the  setting  sun  gradually  crept  round 
the  west  wall  of  the  "  Chalet,"  until  they  shone 
through  the  window  of  a  room  on  the  ground  floor 
which  was  utilised  as  a  chapel. 

There  they  revealed  the  solitary  figure  of  Heloise 
Limonaire,  kneeling  at  an  altar,  a  large  gold  cross 
clasped  to  her  breast,  and  an  intense  ethereal  look 
in  her  marvellous  eyes,  from  which  seemed  to  blaze 
forth  the  light  of  her  fettered  soul. 

In  the  small  hours  of  the  morning,  just  before 
the  dawn,  the  silver  rays  of  the  dying  moon  reached 
the  same  window,  and  piercing  the  gloom,  discovered 
the  Abbess  still  there,  but  not  kneeling. 

She  was  lying  at  the  foot  of  the  altar,  quietly 
still,  her  right  hand  tightly  clasping  the  gold  cross 
to  her  heart,  her  left  arm  hanging  listlessly  by  her 
side.  Closed  were  the  spiritual  eyes,  and  on  her 
almost  perfect  features  was  a  rare  smile  of  happi- 
ness, as  though  she  were  peacefully  sleeping.  But 
there  was  not  the  gentlest  movement  of  her  bosom 
to  denote  that  she  breathed,  and  —  and  her  body 
was  colder  than  the  cold  moonbeams  that  kissed 

her  cheek. 


AT   LAST!   OH   BELOVED!  317 

She  had  been  released  from  her  earthly  prison  ; 
at  last  had  she  gone  to  join  her  affinity — and  the 
smile  on  her  countenance  seemed  to  say,  as  though 
in  triumphant  answer  to  the  words,  "  Seek,  and  ye 
shall  find  "  : 

"  I  HAVE  Sought,  and  I  have  Found  " 


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